Murkowski Wants Clean Air Authority Transferred to Interior
Says department would process permits faster than EPA
Senator Lisa Murkowski is looking to change who has authority over air permits on Alaska’s waters. This comes after years of delays in offshore development plans by companies like Shell.
The Environmental Protection Agency currently has authority over what air permits are granted over Alaska’s waters, but in the Gulf of Mexico, the Interior Department is in charge. And Sen. Murkowski says this isn’t an equal playing field.
Murkowski added legislation to next year’s Interior appropriations bill that would have transferred air quality permit authority in the Beaufort and Chukchi from the EPA to the Interior Department.
But now, the bill will be presented by itself in the House.
Murkowski says companies like Shell have been unsuccessful for years in getting air permits for offshore oil and natural gas exploration. The senator believes the Interior would process permits quicker.
“The bar is high in the Arctic, and it should be,” says Curtis Smith of Shell Alaska. “I think what it’s proposing is to take a very technical process and potentially transfer it to an agency that’s very used to dealing with these kind of permits and has been doing so for the Gulf of Mexico.”
Rebecca Noblin from the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement that Senator Murkowski’s attempt to take air permitting power from the EPA would have “serious consequences for air quality in Alaska.” She went on to say the Interior Department is “known for rubber-stamping dangerous drilling projects.”