The Arctic Sounder: Murkowski rails against EPA sluggishness in offshore permitting

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today stressed the importance of the timely review of permits by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in testimony before the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a Murkowski press release said.

Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, explained that exploration and development in Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf has been held up for years because of the EPA's inability to grant air permits to offshore leaseholders. The region contains an estimated 27 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

"It is indefensible to allow the EPA's failures to serve as a de-facto veto over the national energy security interests of the Outer Continental Shelf," Murkowski said. "The air-permitting process has been confused and taken advantage of by those who have found the Clean Air Act to be less of an air quality statute and more of a hidden, blunt instrument that can be used to stop energy exploration."

Under current law, the Interior Department is tasked with the expeditious development of the nation's offshore energy resources, and takes an average of six weeks to process an air permit for operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The EPA, which currently holds authority for air permits in the Arctic OCS, has now taken more than five years to grant valid air permits requested by Arctic leaseholders. Due to the EPA's lack of efficiency in this process, valuable energy resources in the Alaskan OCS have remained locked up.

"Our resources belong to the American people, not any corporation and certainly not any federal agency," Murkowski said. "It cannot be the EPA's decision, nor their Environmental Appeals Board's decision, that determines whether Americans benefit from the tremendous resources in Alaska's OCS."



Source: Originally Published on April 13, 2011