Murkowski Joins Governor in Calling for Immediate End to De Facto Moratorium

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today said she fully supports Gov. Sean Parnell’s efforts to overturn the federal moratorium blocking development of Alaska’s offshore resources.

“The Obama administration has repeatedly ignored not only the wishes of Alaska in wanting to develop its offshore resources, but also the law,” Murkowski said. “It’s time for such federal overreach to end and allow responsible development of our resources to move forward.”

The Department of Interior’s moratorium, issued in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, was supposed to apply solely to deepwater drilling, not to shallow water operations like those planned in Alaska. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar nevertheless put a hold on shallow water exploration in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas and has repeatedly said the moratorium does in fact extend to Alaska.

At a June 23 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Salazar stated: “The moratorium that is in place does, in fact, apply to the Alaska wells and to the exploration wells that Shell had proposed to put into place.”

And again at a press conference in Anchorage on September 3, Salazar said: “The moratorium does in fact apply to Alaska because we are not going to allow the drilling activities that would have to happen in the OCS without us having to make some kind of affirmative decision.”

“In both instances, the Interior Department has responded quickly in the press to contradict Secretary Salazar and say that the moratorium does not include Alaska leases,” Murkowski said. “So who should we believe? The evidence is pretty clear that the Administration is trying to shut down development of Alaska’s offshore resources, and it’s doing so without a sound foundation in the law.”

In an effort to assist the state in its lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, Murkowski has provided the governor’s office with copies of the official transcript of Secretary Salazar’s testimony, which is key to establishing both the inconsistency and legal position associated with the Administration’s unfair treatment of Alaska.

“I stand firmly in support of Gov. Parnell in his legal challenge to this reactionary and unfounded blockade of Alaska’s resources,” Murkowski said. “The confusion and uncertainty caused by this arbitrary moratorium is staggering. We’re losing not only jobs but also the economic and security benefits from developing our own resources.”

Murkowski is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and also sits on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which makes funding decisions for both the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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