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Alaska Delegation Welcomes White House Meeting On Alaska Offshore Exploration

Administration Officials' Discussion with Shell Oil on Exploration Plans for Beaufort and Chukchi Seas a Good First Step

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Alaska's congressional delegation welcomed the White House's acknowledgement this week of the importance of advancing oil and natural gas exploration on Alaska's outer continental shelf.

Senior administration officials met May 4 with Shell Oil at the White House to establish a timely process for considering the company's permit requests for drilling of exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The delegation has long pressed the administration on the handling of the permitting process in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas and believes this week's meeting is an important step.

The congressional delegation is optimistic progress on the permitting issue can be made quickly, but will pay close attention to the actions that follow the meeting.

"The Shell Chukchi permits are vital to keeping oil flowing through the pipeline. The administration's recognition of this and involvement is a positive sign," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "We're not there yet, though, and I will continue to press on this issue until this important project is a reality."

"After way too many years of delay and bureaucratic roadblocks, I'm encouraged by these signs of progress and will continue to push the administration," said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. "There's still a long way to go but I'm pleased the Obama administration is recognizing that Alaska's enormous oil and gas resources can be developed responsibly and help assure our nation's energy security."

"The meeting held yesterday was just that. It was a discussion about the issue at hand, not a call to action," said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. "While I appreciate that the administration did their jobs and met with those who are concerned by their policies, and their effects on this country, I will wait until I actually see progress and action before I applaud them for a job well done."  

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