In July 2011, Senator Lisa Murkowski and a handful of journalists sat through a presentation by Shell Oil officials. Shell was still in the process of applying for permission to start drilling off of Alaska’s coast. At the time, Senator Murkowski voiced concerns about the “efficiency of the permitting process,” especially when compared to the process for development in the Gulf of Mexico:
“[The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement] isn’t designed to help facilitate the level of permitting for offshore that we have seen for three or four decades now in the Gulf. So I’m looking at this and saying ‘why does this have to be, why are we reinventing the wheel in Alaska?’”
Hindsight is 20/20, and Senator Murkowski could have no way of knowing the current crisis of a grounded rig off Sitkalikadak Island would happen. It is worth noting Senator Murkowski’s focus on speeding up the permitting process, a process that had been delayed due to concerns over the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf Coast the previous year. But as we learn more details about the status of the Kulluk rig, it begs the thought that perhaps Senator Murkowski should have been more concerned about the quality of the breaks rather than how fast the wheel could spin.
- READ MORE: Murkowski Voices Concerns over EPA and BOEMRE [APRN]