State and local leaders praised the U.S. Senate's confirmation Wednesday of Juneau's Larry Persily as federal natural gas pipeline coordinator for Alaska.
"Larry's confirmation is great news in the effort to develop Alaska's natural gas resources and take the gas line from vision and hope to reality," said U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, in a statement issued Wednesday.
Begich also confirmed comments from Alaska legislators that President Obama intends to increase the importance of Persily's position, formally called "Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Projects."
"The White House has indicated once Larry takes his job, President Obama wants to elevate the coordinator's office into his executive office to further advance the Alaska gasline project," Begich said.
Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, said the Legislature, and Juneau, would miss Persily's knowledge of oil and gas issues and his commitment to Juneau.
"I think he will do an excellent job back there, but I hate to lose him here," he said.
"It's also better for us that Obama is elevating his position," Egan said.
"With more than three decades of experience in Alaska and more than a decade working on oil and gas issues, Larry is uniquely qualified to take this position, work with the White House on behalf of Alaskans, and get Alaska's gas to market," Begich said.
The Democratic senator nominated Persily for the Obama administration post.
Persily was once an aide to former Gov. Sarah Palin as an associate director of her Washington D.C. office, as well as holding a number of prominent journalistic jobs in Alaska, including as editor of the Empire.
Persily, currently a key aide to House Finance Committee Co-chair Mike Hawker, said Monday that he had yet to decide when he would leave state employment to begin his new job as federal coordinator, but would consult with Hawker and federal officials to determine that.
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