U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement this morning that after months of negotiations, there is language in the 2012 Department of the Interior spending bill to return authority over air emissions from offshore activity in the Arctic to Interior.
“This language is one of the most important steps Congress can take to ensure that responsible development is allowed to go forward in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas,” Murkowski said. “Transferring air quality authority from the EPA to Interior will place Alaska’s Arctic leases on a level playing field with the Gulf of Mexico and provide a level of predictability, without compromising environmental protections, for those companies willing to invest in the production of America’s energy.”
The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, currently has jurisdiction to issue air quality permits on Alaska’s outer continental shelf. In the Gulf of Mexico, however, the Interior Department handles air quality compliance.
Murkowski’s office said that the language the senator wrote provides regulatory parity for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas with the western and central Gulf of Mexico.
Murkowski has been working for months to resolve the systemic problems with EPA’s permitting process, after watching Shell wait more than five years “in a still unsuccessful bid to obtain valid operating permits from the EPA,” her office said, while the processing time for permits from Interior has averaged a matter of months.
See Alan Bailey’s full story in Dec. 18 issue, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at www.PetroleumNews.com