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CLARIFICATION: Begich Cheers Interior Announcement to Clear the Way for Beaufort Sea Oil and Gas Development

NOTE from Senator Begich's Office: We understand that some are reading Senator Begich's press release on today's Department of Interior announcement about offshore development in Alaska as suggesting that Shell's Beaufort permit has been approved. Our press release does not say that, nor should it be read that way. The Beaufort development was side-lined after the Gulf of Mexico spill, which prompted Senator Begich to ask the Obama administration for a clear process which could lead toward this development project. That's our read of today's announcement - that the permit review is back on track.

December 1, 2010 - Saying offshore development in Alaska’s Arctic could lead to a revival in the state’s oil and gas industry, Sen. Mark Begich today praised an announcement from the Obama Administration to green-light Shell’s proposed oil development in the Beaufort Sea.

“This decision to clear the way for responsible oil and gas in Alaska’s resource-rich offshore waters is great news for our state and the nation,” Begich said. “It’s unfortunate the development was side-lined by this spring’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but I’m pleased the Obama administration took a hard look and made the right decision.”

Begich was called by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this morning, informing him of Interior’s decision clearing the way for Shell to obtain its final permits to permit exploration in the Beaufort Sea next summer. The senator on Sept. 16 wrote President Obama urging his administration to set a “clear timeline and process” for the responsible development of Alaska’s enormous oil and gas resources.

Begich noted that Shell has gone to great lengths to accommodate local concerns, such as imposing a timeout on development during the fall subsistence whale hunt, signing a Conflict Avoidance Agreement with the Eskimo Whalers Commission, staging enormous resources to prevent a spill or deal with one in the remote chance that it occurs and providing funds for additional scientific research. The senator commended tough negotiating by North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta for ensuring that subsistence resources are protected with any oil and gas development.

In his letter to the President, Begich said Alaska’s huge oil and gas resources can be responsibly developed to help ensure the nation’s economic and national security, provide jobs for Americans and affordable energy for the country.

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