The United States federal government, on Monday, conditionally approved the oil and gas company Shell to begin their drilling operation in the Arctic Ocean. Shell anticipates that they will begin drilling off the Alaskan coast by this summer.
The director of the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Abigail Ross Hopper, said a statement about the decision to allow the oil company to drill in the Arctic Ocean.
“We have take a thoughtful approach to carefully considering potential exploration in the Chukchi Sea,” and that the drilling would have the “high standards for the protection of this critical ecosystem, our Arctic communities, and the subsistence needs and cultural traditions of Alaska Natives.”
The Obama administration, which has been a champion of environmental causes, is now at a crossroads with environmentalists. Those opposed to Shell drilling in the Arctic Ocean cite the 2012 incident where the company’s Arctic exploration ran into various issues. Shell had struggled during testing to deploy a spill containment unit, among other issues.
The executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, Cindy Shogan, said a statement. “We can’t trust Shell with America’s Arctic,” and said that the 2012 incident the oil company faced “demonstrated to the nation that drilling in the Arctic is reckless and irresponsible and that no oil company should develop there.”
Another critic of drilling in the Arctic Ocean Erik Grafe, a staff attorney at the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, said a statement.
“This decision places big oil before people, putting the Arctic’s iconic wildlife and the health of our planet on the line… Arctic Ocean drilling is far too risky and undermines the administration’s efforts to address climate change and transition to a clean energy future,.
Though Shell has received initial approval from the federal government, the company still must get further approval from other federal agencies before moving forward with drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean, Reuters reported.
Shell spokesperson, Curtis Smith, said a statement about the permits the company requires to move forward with its drilling operation in the Arctic Ocean.
Approval of Shell’s drilling proposal “is an important milestone and signals the confidence regulators have in our plan… However before operations can begin this summer, it’s imperative that the remainder of our permits be practical, and delivered in a timely manner… In the meantime, we will continue to test and prepare our contractors, assets and contingency plans against the high bar stakeholders and regulators expect of an Arctic operator.”
Last month, the Inquisitr reported on Greenpeace boarding a Shell oil rig in protest.
[Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr]