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Democrats Call for End to Permitting Delays for Point Thomson

Today, Senator Hollis French and Representative Les Gara (both D-Anchorage) sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulators urging the agencies to ensure timely issuance of necessary wetlands and other permits, so that work can begin at the Point Thomson Unit this winter.

“Point Thomson holds hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and over 8 trillion cubic feet of gas,” said Sen. French, “and the Corps of Engineers has had these permit applications since 2009.  It’s time to move this project forward.”

The Army Corps, which is authorized under the Clean Water Act to oversee permits for development on wetlands, has been considering permits for Point Thomson since 2009.  It had set an initial deadline of September 21 to complete its work.  Now the Corps, in a recent statement, indicates that the record of decision and permit “may not be complete until as late as November 21”. 

“If the necessary permits are not granted this year, this winter's pipeline construction season will be lost, and it is likely that production will be delayed yet another year, to 2016, or later, making it almost 40 years that this petroleum rich field has not produced oil or gas,” said the legislators in the letter.  “We hope and trust that both agencies will treat this project as a matter of both state and national importance with approval orders soon.”

The legislators noted that state permitting is also necessary to the project and encouraged both the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to ensure their work was also complete in time for the winter construction season.  DNR has public hearings on the project scheduled this month, and Senator French and Representative Gara expect the department to prioritize this project so as to also issue its permits by November 30.

"Sometimes state and federal issues are laden with politics,” said Representative Gara.  “We want to make clear to government officials-especially those unfamiliar with the history of this project-that this oil and gas project has been delayed for over 30 years.  They need to know that Alaskans of all political stripes are united want this project to move forward as quickly as possible."

To read the letters, please click here.

For more information, please contact Cindy Smith in Senator French’s office at (907) 465-3892 or Rose Foley in Representative Gara’s office at (907) 269-0106.

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