ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Shell Alaska has dropped plans to drill in the Arctic waters of the Beaufort Sea this year and will concentrate on obtaining permits for the 2012 season, company Vice President Pete Slaiby said Thursday.
The recent remand of air permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency was the final driver behind the decision, Slaiby said at a news conference.
Alaska receives upward of 90 percent of its general fund revenue from the petroleum industry, and top state officials reacted strongly to the decision. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, blamed the Obama administration and the EPA.
“Their foot dragging means the loss of another exploration season in Alaska, the loss of nearly 800 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs,” Begich said. “That doesn’t count the millions of dollars in contracting that won’t happen either at a time when our economy needs the investment.”
The EPA issued Shell an air permit, but the agency’s review board granted an appeal because of limited agency analysis regarding the effect of emissions from drilling ships and support vessels.
Slaiby said the issue is not with the environment but with the process not being satisfied. He said Shell has no air issues with Alaska villages.
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