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Begich Asks EPA to Swiftly Resolve Shell’s Air Permit Issues


Meets with Shell President Odum to discuss exploration plans

In an effort to give Shell Oil the opportunity to move forward in 2011 on exploration in the Beaufort Sea, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich requested Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson swiftly resolve outstanding issues created by the recent Environmental Appeals Board’s (EAB) remand of air quality permits for exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

Begich also met today with Shell President Marvin Odum about Shell’s exploration plans, the federal hurdles that remain, and Begich’s ongoing efforts to help the company with its development plans in Alaska.

In a letter to the EPA, Begich points out the issues on remand have been unresolved in one form or another since at least 2007 and expressed his growing frustration with the lack of progress.

“It is frustrating that this delay revolves around a type of permit routinely issued by the former Minerals Management Service in the Gulf of Mexico. It is further frustrating that the affected company, the State of Alaska, my Alaska Delegation colleagues and I all sought to help provide additional resources for the creation of a robust permit process and those efforts met with little interest,” Begich writes to Administrator Jackson.

Begich noted the permits are critical to Alaska’s economy and central to the nation’s domestic energy supply. He sought assurance that the EPA will resolve the outstanding issues once and for all.

“If our government cannot resolve this problem expeditiously, we stand on the threshold of sending the signal to those who have invested significant resources that we do not take their investment seriously and to the American people that we are not truly committed to maintaining our national and economic security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil,” Begich said.

Last week Begich also met with North Slope Borough Edward Itta and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation President Rex Rock to explore ways to responsibly develop North Slope reserves. And Begich on Friday is scheduled to meet with EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran to discuss Shell’s pending permit application.

The letter to the EPA is attached to this release.

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