U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following statement in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's release of a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) for oil and natural gas activities in the Arctic Ocean.
"While I appreciate NOAA's decision to take a second look at the EIS, I continue to believe it's unnecessary for the agency to conduct this review. Environmental reviews are already required at each step of the offshore oil and gas development process -- from five-year plans through production," Murkowski said. "The agency is also acting beyond its jurisdiction by analyzing impacts on polar bears and walruses, which are clearly the responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
Murkowski met last spring with NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco over concerns that the original draft EIS -- released in late 2011 -- could jeopardize the opportunity to develop the oil and natural gas resources offshore Alaska.
"I remain concerned about the scope of the EIS and the potential for area closures and additional mitigation and technological requirements to result in a de facto moratorium on the development of oil and gas in the Arctic," Murkowski said. "I have long said that we should move forward with development in the Arctic only if it can be done safely, but don't believe this EIS contributes to that goal."
Murkowski is Alaska's senior senator and the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.