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Begich Announces Alaska Field Hearing on Increased Arctic Maritime Activity

Representatives from Shell Oil, Department of Interior, and Coast Guard to Attend

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, announced that he will hold a hearing in Alaska on Arctic shipping safety and reviewing the lessons learned from the 2012 offshore drilling season. The hearing will be on March 27, 2013 from 10:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Consortium Library in Room 307.

“Reviewing Shell’s maritime activities and the government’s oversight of these operations is the next logical step in responsible development and preparation for increased Arctic activities,” said Sen. Begich.  “There are always lessons to be learned and as Chairman of the Oceans subcommittee, I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that the U.S. is ready to fully take advantage of opportunities – from increased shipping to development and revenue sharing -  in an evolving Arctic.”

The hearing will also examine the U.S. preparation for Arctic shipping more generally, with testimony from Alaska maritime experts, local communities, and environmental groups.

Sen. Begich has been a vocal supporter of Arctic development, including OCS drilling, the need for infrastructure development to support increased Arctic drilling, and a strengthened Coast Guard presence in the Arctic. He has repeatedly pressed the Obama administration to expedite the permitting process and as a result, Shell Oil became the first producer in 20 years to initiate drilling operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska’s northern coast.

Department of Interior (DOI) representatives will participate in the meeting and will provide an overview of DOI’s high-level review of Shell’s 2012 offshore drilling program in the Arctic Ocean.  Shell executives and representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard will testify as well.

Witness List:

The Honorable Tommy P. Beaudreau, Acting Assistant Secretary - Land and Minerals Management, US Department of the Interior (via video teleconference)

Rear Admiral Thomas P. Ostebo, Commander, Seventeenth District, U.S. Coast Guard

Mr. Pete E. Slaiby, Vice President, Exploration and Production, Shell Alaska

Ms. Helen Brohl, Executive Director, US Committee on the Marine Transportation System (via video teleconference)

Mr. Ed Page, Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Alaska

Ms. Eleanor Huffines, Manager, U.S. Arctic Campaign, Pew Charitable Trusts

Mr. Matt Ganley, Vice President, Bering Straits Native Corp.

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