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For Immediate Release, December 15, 2011

Contact: Rebecca Noblin, (907) 274-1110

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Murkowski Attempt to
Take Arctic Air Permitting Out of EPA Hands

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— In response to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s announcement of an Interior appropriations deal that would take away Environmental Protection Agency authority over air emissions from Arctic offshore oil drilling, Center for Biological Diversity Alaska director Rebecca Noblin made the following statement:

“Without any public process, Senator Murkowski has snuck a deal into the Interior Appropriations bill that will have serious consequences for air quality in Alaska. What Senator Murkowski dubs ‘streamlining’ is no less than an attempt to eliminate EPA oversight of air permitting and put it in the hands of the Interior Department, which is known for rubber-stamping dangerous drilling projects.

“The fact is, Senator Murkowski is upset that the EPA actually requires Shell to at least pretend to comply with the Clean Air Act. Shell’s sad story about being denied permits for the past five years hides the reality that Shell simply has not yet formulated a safe and legal Arctic drilling plan.

“Shell’s most recent drilling plan would greatly increase levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter pollution in Arctic communities. In fact, Shell may cause concentrations of these pollutants to exceed safe levels. Elevated nitrogen dioxide levels can cause breathing problems, particularly asthma, and fine particulate matter pollution can cause breathing problems, heart attacks or even premature death.  

“Senator Murkowski’s move shows that our senator would rather pollute Alaska’s air and threaten our health than say no to the oil companies.”

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