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Speaker, Resources Co-Chair Outraged by Corps' NPR-A Ruling

ConocoPhillips setback sparks statement from Majority members, Army Corps’ ruling threatens NPR-A development

Friday, February 05, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, and House Resources Committee Co-Chair Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, released the following statements today expressing their frustration and outrage at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to deny ConocoPhillips Alaska and Anadarko Petroleum a bridge permit to begin exploration on leases in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, or NPR-A:

“Conoco has permits for exploration in NPR-A. The last remaining obstacle was the bridge permit for the Colville River. This is a project that garnered widespread support from the outlying communities, within the industry, and stood to finally open up the reserve for development,” Speaker Chenault said. “Today’s action is another example of administrative obstruction and sets back development for the near term.

“The companies have a long track record of compliance with the permitting process, and have an approved Environmental Impact Statement for the development in the Colville River Delta,” Speaker Chenault added. “That the Corps took nearly five years to rule is unbelievable in and of itself.”

“It’s another sign that Alaska’s clearly not open for business, through no fault of our own,” Johnson said. “Today’s decision by the Corps sends a terrible message to companies who want to help open up the known reserves on federal lands. They had drilling and exploration permits. They had a road permit. They worked with the government to get this far only to meet resistance from an unresponsive federal bureaucracy. The move means development needs of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System will have to be met on state land or through renewed development and production at Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk.

“I was disappointed to read that there was a delay last month, and I am shocked by today’s action,” Johnson added. “That’s half a billion dollars of development lost. That’s a lot of jobs for Alaskans and revenue for ARSC and the region. The work was pushed back a year due to company concerns, but now the concern is on any development, period, going forward. That’s bad news for Alaska.”

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