Obama administration readies for Arctic offshore drilling
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement today released proposed regulations for offshore exploration drilling activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in the American Arctic Ocean. Both areas are part of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s recently proposed 2017-2022 offshore drilling program. These Arctic-specific regulations govern all phases of offshore oil and gas development, including mobilization, drilling, transport, and emergency response, and require operators to submit oil spill response plans, have prompt access to source control and containment equipment, and the ability to drill a relief well.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:
While the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s first attempt to prevent and mitigate Arctic drilling disasters is significant, it is grossly insufficient in protecting this fragile habitat. There is no such thing as safe or responsible offshore drilling in the Arctic, and the federal government knows it. According to its own environmental analysis, just one lease sale in the Chukchi sea poses a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill, with no effective method for cleaning up or containing it.
The only company determined to take the irresponsible risk of drilling in the American Arctic Ocean is Shell, whose record of recklessness and safety violations have forced it to cancel its Arctic drilling operations for the past two years. It is unconscionable for our federal government to risk the health and safety of the people and wildlife that live near and within the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas for Shell’s profits. This government sanction of “safe” drilling will harm future generations by unleashing more of the dirty fossil fuels that are already warming Alaska twice as quickly as the rest of the nation. The only safe and responsible use of offshore oil and gas in the Arctic is to keep them in the ground.