A diverse group of Alaskan residents, including U.S. Congressmen, Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell, business owners, community leaders and ordinary workers who all support oil and gas exploration and production on the state’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and have written to President Obama to explain why.

In the November 9 letter, they outline why development of the abundant resources in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas would create jobs and contribute to economic recovery, improve the state’s overall wellbeing, as well as national security.

This issue should have been resolved long ago and, frankly, it deserved more scrutiny as to why the Administration continues to drag its feet. Both the Obama and the Bush Administrations have carefully reviewed Shell Oil’s plans to explore this region and both have affirmed that Shell has met all regulatory standards. Indeed, today as we write about this still unresolved issue, we get a sense of déjà vu. Two years ago, we devoted a blog post to the same topic, when we celebrated the long-awaited decision to allow Shell to begin exploratory drilling in Chukchi, considered one of the most bountiful, undeveloped sources of oil in the United States. .

As stated in the Nov. 9 letter, signed by CEA Alaska, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, the Alaska Congressional Delegation, and multiple other lawmakers and community leaders, “Shell’s exploration program has not been blocked due to deficiencies in its proposed operations. Rather, Shell’s program has been blocked by administrative challenges and legal actions intended to delay or invalidate permits based on alleged gaps in the administrative process, not flaws in the substance of Shell’s proposed operations.”

Two years ago, the country needed the economic-growth-and-energy-security jolt from Alaskan OCS development.

Today, it is still difficult to overstate the vast benefit it would provide to our energy security and our economy: Drilling in the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf could generate an estimated 55,000 new jobs for 50 years, $145 billion in new payroll, and $193 billion in additional government revenues over the next 50 years. And it could help ensure the continued viability of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

As the year 2011 draws to a close, we have reason to hope that drilling in the region is finally set to get underway. But as the almost 340,000 Alaskans represented by the signatories of this letter understand, we cannot afford any more false starts or delays.