Begich told to hold hearing on Coast Guard

Adm. Robert Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard, speaks at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard on Friday in Anchorage.

ANCHORAGE — The commandant of the Coast Guard says the nation must decide what level of pollution cleanup response capability it wants the agency to have in the Arctic.

Adm. Robert Papp says that right now, the agency has none.

Papp spoke Friday in Anchorage at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hosted by Sen. Mark Begich. The Alaska Democrat chairs the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Shell Oil has applied to drill exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas next year and says it has assets to respond to a worse-case pollution discharge scenario.

Papp says prudence dictates that the Coast Guard also acquire an appropriate level of Arctic pollution response capability.

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