US Senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski has joined the ranks of prominent politicians calling for their state to be exempted from planned expansion of offshore drilling, according to Reuters.
Murkowski said she intends to ask Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to except some areas – in the Gulf of Alaska and part of the Bering Strait – from plans for unfettered drilling off all of America’s shorelines.
However, unlike some of the Democratic-led requests for exemption, Republican Murkowski is not asking for a blanket lifting of the drilling plan in her state, saying she generally welcomes energy exploration in the Arctic and Cook Inlet.
Current chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski explained that the Alaska congressional delegation has some reservations about some more sensitive ecological areas that might be in drillers’ sights.
In early January DOI had announced the expanded drilling plan but on January 9 Secretary Zinke said Florida could be excluded because of concerns about possible impact on the local economy.
That sparked a torrent of calls for special exemptions from almost all states with coastal economies.
Zinke said he was willing to meet individually with all concerned state governors.
Then, a week-and-a-half ago Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) acting director Walter Cruickshank cast some doubt on the whole idea of exemptions when he said no formal decision had yet been made on what is in or out of the five-year plan for drilling.