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Governor Releases Statement on Arctic Drilling Suspension

May 27, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell today expressed great frustration at the announcement by the Obama administration regarding the "deferment" of Arctic Outer Continental Shelf exploration.

The governor issued the following statement:

"The decision to suspend drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean is based on fear, not sound science. Alaskans have experienced firsthand the ravages of an oil spill with the Exxon Valdez in 1989. We never want to repeat that experience, and our hearts go out to Gulf Coast residents suffering from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. On the other hand, Shell's proposed exploration plan in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas has been reviewed extensively.

"I simply cannot understand how the federal government could approve plans of exploration only five months ago - approvals that were upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - but now refuse to take the final step in a long regulatory process and not authorize Shell's permits to drill. Shell's leases should be extended, and they should be able to continue seeking permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This unnecessary delay will have a significant impact on the economy. Development and production would have immediately created hundreds of jobs, generated revenue for federal, state and local governments, and helped extend the life of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. More importantly, development and production would have provided a domestic source of oil to help meet the nation's energy needs and ease our dependence on foreign sources.

"The operating conditions in the shallow water of the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf are materially different from those encountered in the extreme deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Shell's prevention and response plans meet or exceed the stringent requirements to operate in Alaska.

"Over the past three years the State of Alaska has participated with federal agencies in the review of Shell's proposed Plan of Exploration. Vigorous opposition has led to administrative and court challenges on almost every front. Those challenges were summarily rejected, including a decision from the Ninth Circuit only two weeks ago rejecting the meritless claims of multiple environmental groups and coastal villages."

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