Murkowski: U.S. Must be a Leader in Offshore Oil Production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today stressed the importance of the United States being a leader in offshore energy production, as neighboring countries begin exploring for oil and natural gas along the U.S. maritime border. 

“It does us no good to complain that offshore drilling is too risky for us to pursue when other nations are busy reaping the benefits right along our borders,” Murkowski said. “Neither geology nor ocean currents recognize borders, so we really have both shared opportunity, in terms of the benefits of resource development, and shared risk in terms of spills or other impacts that can occur.”

The United States shares maritime borders with Cuba, Russia, Canada and Mexico. All four countries are moving forward with plans to explore their own outer continental shelf regions. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to examine the United States’ ability to respond to oil spills in foreign waters adjacent to America.

“We cannot expect international compliance with anything close to U.S. standards if we cannot first demonstrate that those standards work in a viable and profitable way here at home,” Murkowski said. “Our best defense against foreign spills is the responsible development of our own offshore resources, which not only means jobs, revenue and greater energy security for America, but also ensures that we retain the expertise and have the capabilities in place to respond to accidents.”

Among Tuesday’s witnesses was Mark Myers, former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, who testified on the importance of Alaska’s expertise in oil development and to the vast resources contained in the Arctic, onshore and offshore. The Arctic holds an estimated 20 percent of the world’s remaining oil, with major undersea oil and gas deposits in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, areas where the United States shares borders with Canada and Russia. Both have plans to drill in the region.