Murkoswki: Offshore production vital to nation's energy security

February 10, 2009
05:33 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           CONTACT: ROBERT DILLON
FEBRUARY 10, 2009                                                                                    (202) 224-6977
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement on Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s decision to delay implementation of the previous administration’s plan to update the five-year lease plan for the Outer Continental Shelf.
“I appreciate Secretary Salazar’s thoughtful approach and commitment to development on the Outer Continental Shelf. And as the process he outlined today continues to unfold, I hope he will also remember the President’s commitment to increase offshore development and the realities of our economic situation,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.
“This leasing plan was initiated last summer, at a time when record energy prices were causing pain at the pump and ripple effects throughout our nation,” Murkowski said. “Our weakened economy has now driven those prices down, but it would be a mistake to expect them to remain low once growth resumes.” 
During the presidential campaign, Obama said he would be willing to include offshore drilling provisions in a comprehensive energy package, but his administration has so far taken no steps to increase domestic production of conventional oil and natural gas.
“If past policies are to be dismissed, it should be those that locked away vital resources and left our nation nearly 60 percent dependent on foreign oil,” Murkowski said. “Environmentally-sound development of our offshore resources will not only create American jobs and strengthen our economy, but also improve national security by reducing our dependence on imported oil.”
The OCS contributes 30 percent of domestic oil production and 21 percent of domestic natural gas production, mostly from the Gulf of Mexico.
“Every state should have the opportunity to decide for itself whether it wants to develop its offshore resources. Those states that choose to allow development should benefit by receiving a fair share of federal revenues from production,” Murkowski said.
Secretary Salazar said he plans to expand the public comment period on OCS development by six months and assemble an internal report on conventional and alternative offshore energy resources. He said he would also expedite rulemaking for renewable energy projects in the OCS.
Sen. Murkowski strongly supports efforts to develop a comprehensive energy plan for the OCS, one that includes renewable energy projects such as tidal and wind as well as conventional energy sources. But she stressed the importance of conducting a new inventory of OCS resources as soon as possible and not just throwing a new cover on existing reports.  
“While Secretary Salazar takes the next 180 days to review leasing in the OCS, I believe it’s imperative that we move ahead with a comprehensive survey of both conventional and alternative energy resources in the OCS so that we can have an informed and honest debate about its energy potential,” Murkowski said.  
Murkowski also said she hopes the additional public review won’t be used as an excuse to further delay renewable energy projects that have been under consideration for years, including the nation’s first viable offshore wind power project.
Secretary Salazar said today he plans to hold four regional meetings on the OCS, including one in Alaska, to hear from stakeholders.
“I look forward to hearing from stakeholders around the nation, including Alaska, about the importance of increasing offshore production from both traditional and renewable energy resources,” Murkowski said. “And I look forward to working with Secretary Salazar to move forward with policies that promote safe, responsible and plentiful energy production.”