July 02, 2002 --- Vol. 8, No. 68July 2002

Heyworth drops out of race, throws support to Murkowski

Scott Heyworth, saying Frank Murkowski represents Alaska's best hope for getting a gasline built, has withdrawn as a candidate for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket and pledged his support to Murkowski, a Republican candidate for governor.

"Only Frank Murkowski has committed to keeping the All-Alaska Gasline route option open and on the table," Heyworth said earlier today.

Murkowski said that he welcomes the endorsement of Heyworth, the sponsor of a successful natural gasline ballot initiative.

"Scott Heyworth demonstrates the kind of can-do, pioneering Alaska spirit that has helped turn big dreams into big accomplishments," Murkowski said.

"Seeing the potential for a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez and an innovative way to make it happen, he collected more than 42,000 petition signatures, so Alaskans can cast their vote in favor of economic opportunity and a brighter future this fall, in the form of the All-Alaskan Gasline Initiative," Murkowski said.

Heyworth made his announcement on the Port of Anchorage docks this morning, where he as worked as a longshoreman for 32 years. He said he was abandoning his pursuit of the Democratic Party's nomination as a candidate for lieutenant governor, saying he received far more support and encouragement for his ideas from Murkowski than from fellow Democrats.

Murkowski said he would support any route that takes Alaska's gas to market.

Norton approves MMS five-year OCS oil and gas lease program

The Minerals Management Service said today that Department of the Interior Secretary Gale Norton has approved its five-year 2002-2007 program for oil and natural gas lease sales on the outer continental shelf.

The program schedules 20 lease sales in eight OCS planning areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.

"The new program supports the president's national energy policy and will help meet the future energy needs of our country in an environmentally sound manner," said MMS Director Johnnie Burton.

Sales proposed for Alaska include three in the Beaufort Sea in 2003, 2005 and 2007; two in Cook Inlet in 2004and 2006; two in the Chukchi Sea in 2005 and 2007; and one interest-based sale in Norton Sound.

The first lease sale scheduled under the new program is Western Gulf of Mexico Sale 184, which is slated for August 21 in New Orleans. The first Alaska sale is the Beaufort Sea Sale 186 scheduled for 2003.

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