US Government Allows Shell to Drill in Arctic

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced on last Monday that they would be granting Shell Offshore Inc. conditional approval to start drilling four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea, beginning in July of 2012.

A polar bear cub curiously stands on its hind legs while its mother stays nearby on the sea ice in Beaufort Sea, north of Point Barrow, Alaska.

Unsurprisingly, conservation groups have exploded in outrage.

The conditional approval of the Exploration Plan will require Shell to acquire all necessary permints from other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“We base our decisions regarding energy exploration and development in the Arctic on the best scientific information available,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “We will closely review and monitor Shell’s proposed activities to ensure that any activities that take place under this plan will be conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

In a statement on their website — which is currently unavailable except through archived caches made available by Google — Earthjustice described the US Department of the Interior’s decision as “dangerous and disappointing” before nothing that “Shell’s drilling risks a major oil spill.”

Earthjustice noted that “Commandant Admiral Robert Papp admitted to members of Congress last week, the federal government currently has ‘zero’ spill response capability in the Arctic.”

“This is a disaster waiting to happen, but still BOEMRE is moving forward with Arctic Ocean drilling,” said Earthjustice attorney Holly Harris. “Scientific integrity and government accountability took their familiar back seat to oil company profits and power today. BOEMRE’s decision to disregard science and gamble with a region that is crucial to endangered bowhead whales, seals, polar bears and other marine wildlife and that Native subsistence communities rely upon so heavily is inexcusable. Today’s decision is nothing more than the administration’s decision to roll the dice with the Arctic.”

Continue on to the next page to read the cries of outrage which echoed across the environmental conservation spectrum.

3 thoughts on “US Government Allows Shell to Drill in Arctic”

  1. Why does the writer tell me the website is currently unavailable? What relevance does this have to the story, and am I supposed to be impressed that he has used “archived caches”? If the website was not available why not use a traditional journalistic method such as asking a campaign group for a comment by email or telephone? For such an important story there is unlikely to be any shortage of comment, or any reluctance to be quoted by hundreds of campaign groups around the world.

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