Begich: Give Interior Department air-quality authority for offshore Arctic
April 13th, 2011 | Alaska Newspapers Staff
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich once again today emphasized the need for the Obama Administration to lift the roadblocks preventing responsible oil and gas development in Alaska, a press release from his office said.
Begich joined the Alaska congressional delegation in testifying before the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, saying he was pleased a month ago to hear President Obama call for increased domestic oil and gas development and cutting foreign oil imports by a third by 2025.
"We Alaskans were glad to hear the President use the "A" word: Alaska," Begich said. "As American's energy storehouse for better than a quarter century, we are anxious to continue supplying our nation a stable source of energy just as we have been doing since oil started flowing through the trans-Alaska pipeline in 1977."
But Begich pointed out the administration, and those preceding the current one, have put up too many roadblocks to both on and off-shore development in Alaska. He outlined ConocoPhillips' efforts to secure a permit to build a bridge in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to help develop oil which has been stalled by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He also summarized Shell Oil's five-years and more than $3 billion worth of investments to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea blocked a few weeks ago by the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board.
"Business as usual simply isn't working when it comes to increased oil and gas development in my state," Begich said.
Begich described his plan to introduce legislation for a federal coordinator for Arctic OCS development, a person who would have the authority to work across agencies - the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and Interior Department - to speed and streamline OCS development. He also reiterated his support for transferring the authority to regulate air quality for OCS oil and gas development off Alaska from the EPA to the Interior Department, as is done in the Gulf of Mexico.