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Inhofe Joins Bipartisan Effort to Improve Offshore Permitting Process  

Link to the Offshore Energy and Jobs Permitting Act

Washington D.C.-Senator James Inhofe (R-OK.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today joined Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in introducing bipartisan legislation that will cut regulatory red tape and allow greater access to domestic energy resources.  The bill, The Offshore Energy and Jobs Permitting Act, will specifically curtail the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) internal Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) from continually stalling energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Under the current system, companies that have paid billions of dollars for offshore oil and gas leases are subject to an endless regulatory loop where the EPA has been unable to issue a permit capable of withstanding its own appeals process. The appeals board is made up of environmental attorneys acting as judges though they are neither confirmed nor authorized by Congress.

Additional cosponsors include Senators John Barrasso, R-WY; Rob Portman, R-OH; John Hoeven, R-ND; John Cornyn, R-TX; Roy Blunt, R-MO; Dan Coats, R-IN; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX; Bob Corker, R-TN; John Thune, R-SD; Richard Lugar, R-IN; Mark Begich, D-AK; and Mary Landrieu, D-LA.

"I am pleased to join Senator Murkowski and my colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation that would remove the unnecessary and endless regulatory process created by the EPA and EAB." Senator Inhofe said.  "For too long, the EAB has been a major impediment to the development of the Outer Continental Shelf:  it has created confusion and uncertainty and has stalled permits already granted by EPA.

"Not only does this process cut off access to our resources, it also prevents the creation of thousands of jobs.  According to one study, economic activity resulting from exploration on Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf could generate an annual average of 54,700 jobs nationwide, with an estimated cumulative payroll of $145 billion over the next 50 years.

"This bill would remove a significant barrier to the development of our domestic resources and the creation of good-paying jobs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill in the Senate."

The Offshore Energy and Jobs Permitting Act would:

 - Amend current law to require air-emission impacts be measured onshore - not offshore - and clarify that any drilling vessel will be regulated as a stationary source once drilling starts;

 - Ensure that the appeals board no longer claims authority to consider or invalidate permits for offshore exploration, allowing instead for review in federal court;

 - Require EPA to grant or deny a permit within six months of the filing of a completed application.

This legislation is a companion measure to H.R. 2021, The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, introduced by Rep. Cory Gardner and voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.