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Greens Ignored As Obama Approves Arctic Drilling

Timothy Cama, The Hill

The Obama administration gave its final stamp of approval Wednesday to Shell Oil Company’s application to drill in the Arctic Ocean. The decision is a major loss for environmentalists.

Under the approval, Shell can start drilling exploratory wells as soon as its fleet arrives at its prospect in the Chukchi Sea, about 140 miles off Alaska’s northwest coast. 

But the two “application to drill”s approved by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) included key restrictions that bar Shell from drilling in areas known to contain oil, since its safety equipment is not yet fully ready.

The decision is a major loss for environmentalists, who have tried various efforts through courts, federal agencies, protests and other means to stop Shell from drilling the first wells in the United States’ portion of the Arctic in years.

The issue has quickly become a top rallying point for green groups, while the oil industry has stepped up its efforts to open drilling in one of the best prospective offshore areas in the world. […]

Environmentalists were disappointed with BSEE’s approval and said that Arctic drilling brings safety, pollution, climate, wildlife and other risks that were ignored.

“President Obama and his administration made the wrong decision today for our Arctic and our climate,” Cindy Shogan, director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said in a statement.

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