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Begich Pleased with Air Permitting Language in Appropriations Bill

Approval would be moved from EPA to Department of Interior

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today issued the following statement after language transferring air permitting authority for outer continental shelf (OCS) oil and gas development off Alaska’s Arctic coast from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the 2012 Department of the Interior spending bill.

Begich has been pushing for the change for several months and has lobbied both the White House and the Senate Democratic leadership for the change. Currently, there are two processes in the country, approval from the Department of the Interior for air permits in the Gulf of Mexico and approval from the EPA for all other waters, including the Arctic. His statement:

“This is an issue of fairness and is long-overdue,” Begich said. “Companies with projects in the Arctic are at a competitive disadvantage under the EPA. It’s time to move all air permitting under the Interior Department.

“If approved, this change will put Arctic development on a level playing field with other offshore developments. New Arctic development will create thousands of jobs and make America more energy independent.”

Begich argued for the air permitting change during his speech to the Alaska State Legislature in March and he testified for its approval during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power in April.

Sen. Begich also signed a joint letter with Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young in July 2009 questioning the EPA on its timetable for air permits in the Arctic and encouraging a more speedy and streamlined process.

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