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Responsible Offshore Development Necessary for U.S. Energy Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Nov. 19 pushed for responsible oil and natural gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and for consolidating management of the nation's offshore resources under a single agency.

"My concern over this administration's approach to the OCS is growing," Murkowski said. "It's now been a year since the offshore moratoria were lifted. In the meantime, this committee voted for greater offshore production to boost our economy and energy security. But many executive actions - and quite a few not taken - are signaling a move in the opposite direction."

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Thursday, Murkowski listed several actions by the administration that have slowed progress on exploration and development on the OCS, including: the Environmental Protection Agency taking nearly four years to consider an air permit for exploration ships in the Arctic; the Interior Department revision of the existing five-year leasing plan; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration call for its own set of offshore deferrals, removals and buffer zones.

These and other actions are undermining the regulatory certainty energy companies need to invest in the United States, Murkowski said.

"Instead of allowing many different agencies to control pieces of the offshore development process, we should be consolidating management - preferably to just one agency under this committee's jurisdiction," said Murkowski, the energy committee's top Republican. "We'll have to work hard to restore our authority over the OCS, but it would be better for both resource development and environmental stewardship if we did."

Responsible development and good environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive goals, Murkowski said. But she warned that the administration's overly restrictive policies are handicapping U.S. industry and the nation's energy security.

"The development process is complex enough even when development isn't under attack from a seemingly endless list of regulatory agencies," she said. "The United States has some of the most stringent environmental standards in the world and companies that meet those standards should be allowed to pursue responsible development."

Murkowski said she'd continue to push legislation introduced this summer with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, that would give states a share of the revenue from oil and gas development off their coastlines.

"Revenue sharing should be thought of as a collaboration between the federal government and coastal producing states - necessary to secure meaningful production, and to ensure that states and communities can study and adjust for any environmental impacts they might face," Murkowski said.

Allowing development on the OCS would provide much needed revenue for state and federal governments, as well as create well-paid jobs for Americans. "It's an option we can't afford to ignore anymore," Murkowski said.

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