Murkowski: Proposed Lease Plan a Positive Sign

But Permitting Process will Determine Ultimate Success

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s release of its five-year offshore leasing plan for 2012-2017:

“The lease sales the administration has proposed in the coming five years are a positive sign for our energy security. While the administration has not opened any new areas to leasing, I’m encouraged that they are moving forward with offering sales in both the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Leasing is only half the story, however. The permitting process will be the determining factor as to whether these lease sales are ultimately successful or not,” Murkowski said. “Any company interested in exploring for oil and gas off the coast of Alaska must have a reasonable expectation that the permitting process will be robust but with a timeline that is not unreasonable. We can’t expect companies to invest billions of dollars and then subject them to a permitting process that drags on for years with no end in sight.”

The proposed plan announced today by the Interior Department includes one lease sale each in Cook Inlet in 2013, the Beaufort Sea in 2015, and the Chukchi Sea in 2016. Shell Oil has been trying since 2007 to get the necessary permits to explore its leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. In July, the administration formed an interagency working group to address the permitting process in Alaska. Murkowski has called that decision a “positive step” and is hopeful it will reduce delays in the future. 

Murkowski is Alaska’s senior senator and the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.