On One Year Anniversary of House Approval of Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, Drilling in Arctic Set to Commence

June 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - After enduring nearly six years of opposition and a grueling permitting process, Shell will finally begin energy exploration in Alaska’s Arctic waters next month. Exactly one year ago, the House passed bipartisan legislation to help streamline permitting in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas where drilling is expected to commence shortly, a legislative solution that would prevent similar energy and job creation delays in the future.

EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board rejected environmentalists’ challenges to exploration operations earlier this year, marking an end to EPA’s approve-then-appeal permit process. On June 22, 2011, the House passed H.R. 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, authored by Reps. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gene Green (D-TX), to clarify existing law and eliminate bureaucratic permitting delays blocking energy exploration and production off the coast of Alaska and in other areas in the Outer Continental Shelf.

”In the coming weeks, Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas will finally be open for energy exploration. Alaska’s offshore resources hold great opportunities to spur economic growth and increase our energy security. The long-overdue development of these waters could produce up to one million barrels of domestic oil supplies per day and create more than 50,000 American jobs,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

”While Shell has finally overcome EPA’s regulatory gauntlet, the need for legislative action is still urgent. It should not take six years to obtain a simple exploration permit. Layers of red tape continue to sideline workers and block important domestic production opportunities off the coast of Alaska and in other OCS areas. To eliminate the bureaucratic delays standing in the way of job creation and American energy production, I urge the Senate to take up and pass this sensible, bipartisan legislation.”

The Environmental Appeals Board has repeatedly blocked domestic production opportunities on the Outer Continental Shelf by rejecting permits already granted by the EPA, resulting in permitting delays lasting over 5 years. The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act eliminates the permitting ping-pong between EPA and its Environmental Appeals Board. Rather than having exploration air permits repeatedly approved and rescinded by the agency and its review board, EPA will be required to take final action - granting or denying a permit - within six months. Any appeals will go to the D.C. Circuit Court for resolution, because of the national implications of oil production on the Outer Continental Shelf and the need for consistency in decision-making.

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