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Senate Majority Members React to Shell Decision to Suspend Operations

Decision illustrates Federal Overreach and Need for Cohesive Arctic Policy

JUNEAU-This week, Senate Majority members reacted to Shell’s announcement the company is suspending its drilling operations in Alaska during 2014, despite having made extensive preparations with upgraded rigs and support vessels.

“The federal courts continue to cave to international environmentalists who don’t want Alaska to have the healthy private sector economy we were promised at statehood,” said Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole.  “If large companies who invest billions of dollars and have tremendous risk can’t develop our resources, what chance do small mining, oil, and gas operations have?”

“The recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court last week which ruled against the Department of the Interior’s regulatory process and Shell’s subsequent announcement to suspend drilling activity in the Arctic for 2014 illustrates the need for a cohesive Arctic policy,” said Senator Lesil McGuire, Co-Chair of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission.   “A sound regulatory framework and clear paths forward are critical for major investments in the Arctic to continue.  We need a strong Arctic policy that won’t allow the court system to pre-empt the legislative and regulatory structure, and the courts need to listen.”

So far, Shell has invested nearly $6 billion on its Arctic offshore drilling effort.

“Protecting our environment is a key guiding principle for Alaskans.  We balance that with commitment to economically vibrant communities with job opportunities for Alaskans,” said Senator Cathy Giessel, Chair of the Senate Resources Committee.  “I am saddened that the court system has preempted these economic opportunities, ignoring the expertise, experience and commitment to safety to which the industry is committed.”

“In order to increase economic development in the Arctic region, resulting in the elevation of the quality of life for its inhabitants, continued investment is paramount,” said Senator McGuire.  “Private industry of any sort will need a clear and level playing field or they will fail to get involved, and Alaska and the United States could lose the race to the Arctic.”

For more information, please contact Senate Majority Press Secretary Carolyn Kuckertz at (907) 465-3803.

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