Murkowski: Legacy Wells Are Pinnacle of Negligence and Hypocrisy

Senator Testifies at Alaska State House Resources Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Senator Lisa Murkowski today testified via teleconference at an Alaska State House Resources Committee hearing on House Joint Resolution 6, the Legacy Well Remediation Resolution.  She was invited to participate by Alaska State Representative Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage.

“The situation in the NRPA represents the pinnacle of environmental negligence and hypocrisy. This is the same federal government and Department of Interior who – as they should – have held private industry to the highest of standards with regard to environmental protection,” Murkowski said. “Alaskans want reasonable exploration and development, but not as the risk of the environment. I commend the private industry in Alaska for working to meet the Federal Government’s high standards. On the other hand, I have to continue to ask, why shouldn’t the Federal Government itself live up to those same standards?”

Last summer, Murkowski called a hearing in the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to bring national attention to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 40-year failure to clean up federally drilled oil and natural gas exploration wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). At that hearing, BLM Alaska Director, Bud Cribley, committed that the BLM would prepare an action plan to lay out a path forward for well remediation.

“Unfortunately, we are still awaiting the promised document, but I will continue to press the BLM and the entire Department of the Interior (DOI) not only to fulfill their promise of formulating an action plan, but also to keep their larger overall promise to mitigate the leaking wells,” Murkowski said. “In addition, since our hearing last summer, I was able to obtain a six-fold increase in funding from the President’s budget for legacy well cleanup in the Senate Interior Appropriations Bill, which I hope will see action in the very near future.”

“It is so ironic that the federal agency charged with protecting NPR-A is also the one entity causing it the most harm,” said the prime sponsor of HJR 6, Alaska Representative Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage. “I met with BLM officials multiple times in Washington D.C. and let’s just say cleaning up the wells and protecting the habitat is not their priority. When it comes to oil and gas exploration this is a case of the federal government saying do as I say, not as I do.”

Murkowski is the ranking Republican on both the Interior Department’s authorizing and appropriating committees – the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee.