Sen. Murkowski Secures Commitment to Arctic Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today secured a commitment from the nominee for Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Janice Schneider, to improve the Interior Department’s permitting process and provide greater regulatory certainty for oil and natural gas exploration in the Arctic.


(Click photo for video of Sen. Murkowski’s questioning of Janice Schneider)

“I agree with you that business needs regulatory certainty and predictability. People, particularly when they are going to invest huge sums of money, need to understand what the rules of the road are…. If I am confirmed to this position, I am committed to ensuring that there is an opportunity for greater regulatory certainty, including the potential for offshore oil and gas exploration off of Alaska,” Schneider told Murkowski.

Murkowski said she was disappointed, but not surprised last week by Shell’s announcement that it was canceling its exploration plans in the Chukchi Sea this summer because of the 9th Circuit ruling on Lease Sale 193 and Interior’s failure to provide regulatory predictability for the Arctic.

Murkowski told Schneider that the Interior Department needs to make a clear commitment to the responsible development of the oil and gas resources that exist in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, and commit to a dual track for development in the Chukchi Sea in 2015 that both remediates the environmental impact statement that was struck down by the 9th Circuit Court and at the same time continues the department’s evaluation of the exploration plan so that Shell can proceed in 2015.

Schneider made her comments on Tuesday at her nomination hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski is Alaska’s senior senator and the top Republican on the energy committee. Complete video of Tuesday’s hearing is available on the energy committee’s website.