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Begich: Foot Dragging by EPA Costing Alaska Jobs, Investment

Shell loses another exploration season due to EPA roadblocks

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement after Shell announced today it will forego a 2011 drilling program in Alaska due to uncertainty of permitting from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

"I put the blame for this squarely on the EPA and the Obama Administration who have taken virtually every opportunity to block responsible development of Alaska's resources. Their foot dragging means the loss of another exploration season in Alaska, the loss of nearly 800 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs. That doesn't count the millions of dollars in contracting that won't happen either at a time when our economy needs the investment.

"Shell has been working diligently for five years and has invested billions of dollars to meet the regulatory and permitting requirements of the federal agencies.  It is shameful to see another season lost.

"The President's own Oil Spill Commission, in its final report released last month, found a moratorium on development in the Arctic is not justified and recommended moving forward on an Arctic energy development plan.

"I have talked to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson multiple times, and will continue to make the case for Shell to be able to move forward with exploration. Shell is hoping to get the air permits it needs for 2012. We will continue to work with the company and the EPA to make it happen."

Earlier this week, Sen. Begich pointed out the instability in Egypt and the potential for disruption of the 5 percent of the world's oil supply that moves through the Suez Canal is further proof that America needs to move forward on a national energy plan focusing on increased domestic production of oil and gas. Shell's prospects in Alaska's Arctic are some of the best options in the U.S. at this time.

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