Murkowski Welcomes Release of Revised OCS Air Permits to Shell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today offered the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s release of draft air quality permits for Shell Oil's exploratory drilling operations in Alaska's Arctic waters:

“This represents a positive step in what has been a long and frustrating process,” Murkowski said. “I’m hopeful that the EPA’s process will work this time and I strongly encourage Alaskans to get involved by submitting comments for the record to the agency, since it is our shared future that is at stake.”

Shell is now in the sixth year of a 10-year lease that it has been unable to explore due in part because of the EPA’s failure to process valid air-permit applications. The EPA previously issued Shell air permits in the spring of 2010, but those permits were overturned on appeal by the agency’s Environmental Appeals Board. The agency today made the revised permits available for a 30-day public comment period and public hearing before issuing final permits.

“Alaska’s offshore resources represent our greatest potential to develop the energy we currently rely on to drive our economy,” Murkowski said. “While we must ensure development is done responsibly, we must also have a regulatory process that provides companies willing to invest in our economy assurance that their applications will be processed in a timely manner.”

Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas contain some 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Alaska OCS, according to federal estimates.