Begich blasts Arctic drilling ‘naysayers’

JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is labeling some of his colleagues as “short-sighted naysayers” for seeking suspension of new lease sales in the Arctic.

Five Democratic senators and Independent Bernard Sanders last week wrote to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, seeking a hold on new leases pending a “thorough re-evaluation” of the environmental and safety risks associated with Arctic drilling.

Begich, in a statement Monday, said if his colleagues had “done their homework,” they would know the Interior Department had conducted such a review earlier this year. He said the department also is putting additional safeguards in place.

He said he hoped more senators would look at the “long-term economic and national security benefits” of developing oil and gas in the Arctic, rather than “resorting to tired, partisan talking points.”

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