U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today pushed back on his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, calling their appeal to delay Arctic development shortsighted, misinformed and misguided.
Begich issued the following statement:
“I’m disappointed – although not surprised – to see several Senate Democrats request that the government delay oil and gas leasing in the Arctic and order a review of existing operations.
“If they had done their homework, they would know the Department of the Interior has already conducted a thorough review of Arctic offshore oil and gas operations and regulations earlier this year, and the department is busy putting additional safeguards in place.
“Rather than continuing to be short-sighted naysayers and resorting to tired, partisan talking points, I would hope more senators would look at the long-term economic and national security benefits of developing the Arctic’s energy resources.”
Six Democratic members of Congress recently wrote to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, asking her to forgo leasing in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in 2016/2017, to review existing programs, and to delay any permitting pending that review.
Sen. Begich has long been a supporter of Arctic development that includes offshore oil and gas drilling. Begich’s efforts to inform and press the Obama administration on Alaska issues have led to an increase in permits for offshore oil and gas exploration and a more efficient, streamlined federal oil and gas permitting and application process. As a result, in 2012 Shell Oil became the first producer in 20 years to initiate drilling operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska’s northern coast.