"Egan Says Claim Too High"

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, October 24, 1970, p.1


William A. Egan, Democratic candidate for governor, said yesterday he believes the 40 million acres asked by Alaska Natives in settlement of their land claims is too much, but said he believes the state should participate in the financial payment and could go as high as a two per cent overriding royalty on sale of land and oil and gas leases.

Egan and his running mate, H.A. Boucher, attended a luncheon of the Farthest North Press Club at the Villa.

Questioning of the candidate regarding the amount of land he believes the Natives should receive brought no specific figure, but Egan mentioned 15 million acres. He emphasized, however, that he had not had an opportunity to determine exactly how much would be a fair amount—fair to both Natives and other Alaskans.

"I suppose if I were a Native I'd ask for as much as 40 million acres," he said.

Egan had these other comments:

He said the state erred in putting up as much acreage for lease as it did in September of 1969 which brought in $900 million. He said a third of the acreage would have brought in about $500 million.

Asked if he would set aside $500 million of the state's $900 million in a permanent fund and use only the interest from that money, Egan said that question is open to decision. He said it is not known how long it will be before the pipeline is built and royalties are received, "and the people's need must be met now."

He endorsed the $148 million in bond issues which will be on the November ballot and said the bonds are not a political issue.

He backed up the published comment of Boucher that his opponent, Gov. Keith H. Miller "should come out from behind the coattails of Lt. Gov. Robert Ward." Egan said that on radio and television shows Miller had repeatedly turned to Ward for answers to questions. He said he believed in the governor and lieutenant governor working together "but the governor is the man who has to make the decisions."

Regarding the Native land settlement, Egan emphasized the importance of its settlement to the state. The U.S. Senate has passed a bill providing a payment of $500 million, 10 million acres of land and an overriding royalty of two per cent up to another $500 million. That bill is now pending in the House.

The Natives are standing pat on their demands for $1 billion and for 40 million acres. More recently, the Arctic Slope Native Association broke away from the Alaska Federation of Natives to make even greater demands to settle the century-old question.

Regarding the September oil and gas lease sale, Egan contended that the state already knew that the oil companies had found a huge reservoir of oil at Prudhoe Bay, and with that knowledge should not have offered so much land for sale.

"The state is in the driver's seat with the people's resources," he said.


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