Murkowski Welcomes Approval of Air Permits for Shell’s Kulluk Drillship

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement regarding a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal appeals board confirming the validity of air-quality permits for Shell’s Kulluk drillship to explore Alaska’s Arctic waters this summer.

“Today’s decision by the EPA’s appeals board brings us closer than we’ve ever been to proving up the vast storehouse of oil and gas off Alaska’s northern coastline,” Murkowski said. “While there are still more hurdles to clear, I am encouraged by today’s news that exploration will finally be able to occur in both the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer.”

Shell has been trying to get valid air permits from the EPA since 2006. After the issuance of two separate permits and two rounds of appeals by environmental activists, today’s decision upholds the validity of the revised permits issued by the agency for the drillship Kulluk.

“The validation of Shell’s air quality permits means that we are nearing the end of what has been a long and exhaustive process,” Murkowski said. “It’s now imperative that the Obama administration ensure that the few remaining permits are processed promptly to avoid any last minute, unnecessary delays that could cost us another lost season.”                     

The EPA appeals board previously upheld air permits for Shell’s Discoverer drillship. Both ships are scheduled to explore Alaska’s Arctic waters this summer under an Interior Department-approved exploration plan.