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Murkowski wants some Alaska waters closed to offshore drilling

Murkowski wants some Alaska waters closed to offshore drilling
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska) wants the Interior Department to remove some areas surrounding Alaska from consideration for offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

Murkowski told Reuters that she and other state leaders are excited at the prospect of drilling in the Arctic Ocean and more drilling in the Cook Inlet.

But some other areas, like the Kawerak region in the Bering Straits, should be off-limits for environmental reasons, she said.

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“There are certain areas that we feel are not opportune for leasing and for development," Murkowski, who chairs the Senate committee that oversees Interior, told Reuters. “Let’s focus on where the opportunity is good and there is interest and defined resource with limited obstacles.”

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWhy the BLM methane rule works for industry and taxpayers NJ governor signs bill to block offshore drilling Top Interior official key to delaying protection for an endangered species MORE unveiled a plan early this month under which nearly all waters around Alaska, save for the ecologically critical Bristol Bay, would be considered for drilling. The plan also included all of the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Zinke has pledged to take seriously concerns of governors, congressional delegations, coastal communities and others in formulating and finalizing the plan.

Days after he unveiled the plan, he took Florida’s waters out of consideration due to objections by Gov. Rick Scott (R). But despite objections from other states’ leaders, he has not committed to removing any other areas.

Murkowski said Zinke will likely heed concerns from Alaska and elsewhere.

“He will take things off just as he took Florida off and as he will be taking other matters off as the process moves forward,” she said.