Senator Mark Begich on American Energy

Senator Mark Begich on American Energy

By Your World w/Neil Cavuto - April 6, 2010

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: All right, minutes away now from hearing from the governor of West Virginia updating us on that deadly coal mine explosion, this tragedy coming ahead of a great debate in Washington over the need for new climate change legislation. Lawmakers are expressing their condolences throughout the day, my next guest one of them. With us now, Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska.

Senator, good to have you.

SEN. MARK BEGICH D-ALASKA: Thank you very much.

And I also want to share my condolences for the 25 that have passed, but also our prayers for the four that they're working hard to rescue and doing whatever they can. And it's an incredible tragedy to watch it unfold today.

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

But it does come at a time when we are looking at expanding our energy pie, so to speak, Senator, to include more coal, to include more oil exploration. But coal is certainly a big part of that.


CAVUTO: What happens, sadly, after disasters like these is, they cut back on the coal part, or think that maybe it's not worth it.

What do you think?

BEGICH: Well, we have seen it also with oil and gas.

CAVUTO: Right.

BEGICH: It's a combination. And we have to be careful. As we develop especially this long-term energy policy for our country, it's important to establish an energy policy that's comprehensive, that understands that it's for national security, as well as economic security, and has to include everything.

And we don't want to respond in a crisis moment, as we are sharing the grief with the families in the coal mines, but we have to look at the larger and broader picture. And I think, at least from my...


CAVUTO: Well, do you think coal's worth it? Do you think - because I heard from many in your party, sir, who say, well, you know, this is more proof that we have got to look at alternatives.

BEGICH: Well, I would say I just saw a letter from some of my Democratic colleagues, at least I think seven or eight of them, that said oil and gas offshore would also be a bad idea.

I disagree with them. I think, you know, we can have an overall energy plan that includes - for example, in Alaska, we have shown, with offshore oil development, oil and gas, that we can do it right. I think, in the coal mining issues, we have some tragedies, absolutely, but I think, if we continue to look at a broader perspective, that's what we have to do on energy policy.

I know some of my folks in my own party, on oil and gas, the OCS last week, when the president unveiled his plan on Outer Continental Shelf development...

CAVUTO: Yes, they went nuts. They went nuts.

BEGICH: We - we - I - they...


BEGICH: Nuts would be a calm word, I think.

CAVUTO: Right.

BEGICH: And, from my perspective, I was pleased with - this was a step in the right direction. In Alaska, the Chukchi and Beaufort have tremendous capacity.

And when it comes to oil and gas, kind of my view is, what's good for Alaska is going to be good for this country, because we have one-third of the gas supply, the future oil supplies. And I believe we can do it the right way.

But you're right. The Democrats in my caucus, a group of them went - a good phrase - nuts. Environmentalists went nuts.

But my view is, they're wrong on this. We can do it well.


BEGICH: And we have got to have a comprehensive approach.

CAVUTO: Senator, thank you very much. I know you have a busy schedule. Appreciate it.

BEGICH: Thank you very much. Always a pleasure.


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