Alaska senator blames regulations for pushing Shell out of Arctic

Alaska senator blames regulations for pushing Shell out of Arctic

Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE (R) is blaming federal regulations for forcing Royal Dutch Shell to abandon its Arctic drilling plans. 

Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the Obama administration should look to stabilize federal regulations on Arctic energy production and clear the way for more development in the future. 

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“What we have here is a case in which a company’s commercial efforts could not overcome a burdensome and often contradictory regulatory environment,” Murkowski said in a statement Monday. 

“[The Interior Department] placed significant limits on this season’s activities, which resulted in a drilling rig sitting idle, and is widely expected to issue additional regulations in the coming weeks that will make it even harder to drill,” she added. “Add this all up, and it is clear that the federal regulatory environment — uncertain, ever-changing, and continuing to deteriorate — was a significant factor in Shell’s decision.”

Shell announced Monday that it would stop exploring for oil off the Alaskan coast “for the foreseeable future.” The company blamed a handful of factors for the decision, including uncertainty over federal regulations on drilling there. 

Murkowski used Shell’s decision to call for a more “predictable and sensible regulatory system both onshore and offshore” for energy development. 

“Continued uncertainty will only further damage our competitiveness and our economy,” she said. “And so today, I call on the administration to work with Alaskans — to develop a legitimate plan, driven by our input and preferences, to ensure the prolific resources in our federal areas are produced.”

Murkowski’s statement is at odds with the reaction from environmental groups, who said Monday that Shell’s decision gives the Obama administration the chance to block further energy development in the Arctic. 

The groups, including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, said Obama should undo plans to offer future energy development leases in the Arctic rather than risk an oil spill or produce more fossil fuels. 

Murkowski, though, said federal regulators should offer more leases, both offshore and in the contentious Arctic National Wildlife Refuge area, to help boost the Alaskan energy industry.

“Development in the Arctic is going to happen — if not here, then in Russia and Canada, and by non-Arctic nations,” she said. “I personally believe that America should lead the way.”