Murkowski Applauds Approval of Shell’s Arctic Spill Prevention Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today congratulated the U.S. Department of the Interior for its approval of Shell’s oil discharge prevention and contingency plan for Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.

“I appreciate Interior’s final approval of Shell’s contingency plan for the Chukchi,” Murkowski said. “Today’s decision confirms what we’ve known for some time – that Shell has put together a robust and comprehensive spill prevention and response plan that offers the highest level of environmental protection.”

Today’s approval represents the last major step needed to advance Shell’s exploration program in Alaska’s Arctic waters. Shell, which spent $2.1 billion on leases in the Chukchi Sea in 2008, has applied to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi this summer. Shell is still awaiting to finalize permits for its Chukchi plan from Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This represents great news for Alaska and the entire country,” Murkowski said. “I cannot overstate the opportunity that Arctic exploration offers in terms of jobs and energy security.” 

As the ranking member of both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Murkowski has consistently used her legislative and budgetary authority over the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency to advocate for expanding responsible energy development on Alaska’s outer continental shelf.

 Murkowski took her case for Arctic exploration to the White House in February 2011, meeting with President Obama to explain how the administration’s regulatory roadblocks were holding back production in Alaska.

Last August, Murkowski brought Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to the North Slope to meet with industry and local officials regarding expansion of offshore exploration. In December, Murkowski used her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to successfully restore the Interior Department’s authority over air quality for offshore oil and natural gas activities. 

Murkowski has sent multiple letters to federal agencies and made numerous Senate floor statements on the importance of increasing domestic production. She has introduced several bills and amendments in support of offshore development and coastal revenue sharing, and held hearings on the technology and stewardship issues for America’s offshore resources. 

“Alaska’s offshore resources represent one of our greatest opportunities to get America’s economy moving again,” Murkowski said. “As the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard has testified, the homework is done and we are ready and waiting to move forward with safe and responsible exploration of our huge energy resources.”

The Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast contain 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to federal estimates.