Murkowski Expects Shell, ConocoPhillips Plans to Move Forward

EPA Releases Two New Air Quality Permits for Public Comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency released two new draft air quality permits for Shell and ConocoPhillips’ exploration plans for Alaska’s outer continental shelf (OCS):

“Permitting has been the greatest obstacle to our being able to discover and develop new oil prospects in Alaska, so any progress on that front is welcomed,” Murkowski said. “Far too often, however, we have seen the permitting process breakdown at the last moment over environmental challenges. It is my hope that the final approval of these permits will proceed in a fair, timely manner, and that the EPA’s work will stand up to the inevitable challenges from environmental activists.”

The EPA will accept public comments on the draft permits through Sept. 6, as well as holding public hearings in Barrow and Anchorage. Murkowski expects Shell to begin exploration in the Beaufort Sea in 2012, while ConocoPhillips plans to begin exploration drilling in the Chukchi Sea in 2013.

“Increasing offshore production in Alaska will replenish the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, create thousands of jobs, increase revenues to the federal government and increase our country’s energy security,” Murkowski said. “I will continue to work with all parties to ensure these projects come to fruition without further unnecessary delays.”

Murkowski, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is pursuing legislation to provide Alaska with 37.5 percent of the federal revenues from offshore energy production, as well as legislation to expedite the EPA permitting process in the Alaska OCS.

On Thursday, the Energy Committee, under Murkowski, approved legislation that would grant a right-of-way through Denali National Park for an in-state natural gas pipeline project.