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Begich Introduces Arctic OCS Coordinator Legislation

Goal is to speed, streamline development in Alaska’s Arctic

To promote oil and gas development in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and remove roadblocks halting development in the region, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich last week introduced legislation creating a federal coordinator for the Arctic OCS. Modeled after legislation the late Sen. Ted Stevens passed establishing a federal gasline coordinator, the office would have the authority to work across the agencies currently delaying development in Alaska.

“I can best describe the situation as regulatory ‘whack a mole’ for developers in Alaska,” Begich said. “Each time we have one mole beat down, another one pops up and derails the progress. But this isn’t a game. It’s about the future of Alaska and the energy security of our country.”

Begich’s legislation, the Outer Continental Shelf Permit Processing Coordination Act, S843, creates a lease and permit coordination office for the Alaska Region of the Outer Continental Shelf. It requires the Secretary of the Interior to enter into memorandums of agreement with Commerce agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, other federal agencies involved in permitting activities, the State of Alaska and borough governments adjacent to active lease areas. The coordinator would work with all of these agencies to streamline development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, known to hold significant oil and gas reserves.

“With years of hard work and billions of dollars of investment by companies working in Alaska, we can delay no more,” Begich said. “Gas prices get higher every day, the Middle East remains unstable, and the U.S. has to focus on moving forward with our own domestic energy resources. Alaska has the greatest potential in that area, and this legislation will help make it happen.”

Begich announced the introduction of his legislation at a news conference in Anchorage today at the Resource Development Council. He was joined by Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska Vice President; Mark Hylen, President of the Board of Directors for the Alliance; Geoffrey Haddad, V.P. Exploration and Land for ConocoPhillips Alaska; and Tom Malone, President of the Resource Development Council and more.

In addition to coordinating federal agencies’ permitting in the OCS, the legislation would more quickly resolve litigation over the permits by narrowing appeal periods and moving jurisdiction to the federal District court in Washington, DC.

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