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Murkowski gets answers she wants on arctic energy

Feb. 5, 2014 at 6:48 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she has been reassured the Interior Department will provide clear regulations for arctic oil and gas exploration.

Murkowski, R-Alaska, quizzed Janice Schneider, the nominee for assistant secretary for land and minerals management at the Interior Department, on arctic exploration.

She said during Schneider's confirmation hearing Tuesday she had "concerns and reservations" about the nomination, but expressed satisfaction when Schneider said there was a need for regulatory certainty regarding oil and natural gas exploration in the arctic.

"If I am confirmed to this position, I am committed to ensuring that there is an opportunity for greater regulatory certainty, including the potential for offshore oil and gas exploration off of Alaska," Schneider said.

Schneider was nominated in November. She serves currently as a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP in Washington, covering energy and environmental issues. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement Schneider would "be an advocate for a balanced approach" to U.S. energy policy if confirmed.

Murkowski's query followed an announcement from Royal Dutch Shell that it wasn't planning to invest in a campaign off the coast of Alaska this year.

The U.S. Energy Department says there are vast oil deposits in arctic waters off the coast of Alaska, though state oil production as a whole has been in decline.

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