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Begich Praises EPA Approval of Shell Chukchi Development


U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today welcomed news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a clean air permit for Shell to proceed with oil and gas development in the Chukchi Sea, site of one the richest reservoirs of oil and gas in North America.

“Approval of Shell’s clean air permit for Chukchi Sea development is great news for Alaska and hopefully is a sign of much more responsible oil and gas development to come in Alaska’s resource-rich off-shore,” Begich said. “I’ve had many conversations with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about this permit and am pleased her agency has finally approved it.”

At issue is the proposal by Shell Offshore Inc. to explore for oil and gas in Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea. Held in February 2008, Lease Sale 193 attracted more than $2.6 billion in bids and was the first such sale in the Chukchi in 15 years. The federal Minerals Management Service estimates the Chukchi could hold recoverable reserves of 15 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The EPA conducted public hearings in Alaska about the permit earlier this year.

Begich said EPA’s permit approval, coming on the heels of Wednesday’s announcement by President Obama giving the green light to OCS development in Arctic Alaska, should be well received by Alaska’s oil and gas industry and by Alaskans hoping for new work in the industry.

“I’m hopeful we’re poised for a renaissance in Alaska’s oil patch, with this permit for Chukchi development and the Obama administration’s support for OCS development,” Begich said. “Alaska’s oil and gas industry knows how to do development in challenging Arctic conditions. Now Shell has an opportunity to demonstrate to regulators and those cool to development that it can help meet America’s energy needs while protecting other Arctic resources.”

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