The Arctic-specific guidelines were issued in direct response to the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell’s Alaskan Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, in January 2013.
Despite having been forced to cancel its Arctic drilling operations the past two years because of related safety violations, Shell is planning to return to the Arctic this summer with plans to dig a series of exploratory wells and to deploy two rigs in the Chuckchi sea, the Guardian reports.
In an official statement announcing the proposed rules, BSEE and BOEM note that drilling in the Alaska OCS is an “integral part of the Nation’s ‘all-of-the-above’ domestic energy strategy.” And Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell commended the guidelines, saying: “The Arctic has substantial oil and gas potential, and the U.S. has a longstanding interest in the orderly development of these resources.”
Despite these assurances, environmental groups warn that such regulations only further entrench U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
“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,” FOE’s Knodel added.
Earlier this month, Greenpeace launched an online campaign calling on supporters to share their “worst joke” in a bid to show Shell that “Arctic drilling is no joke.”
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