by Christine Kim
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Obama administration's announcement Wednesday of its plans for offshore U.S. oil and gas exploration will strongly affect Alaska's Arctic Ocean coastline and the Bristol Bay region.
The expansion of Outer Continental Shelf development gives Alaska's largest-grossing lease sale clearance to continue its plans for drilling.
"This was one of the important milestones on our continual effort to mobilize a drilling ship into the Chukchi or the Beaufort (seas)," said Shell Alaska vice president Pete Slaiby.
It validates a lease sale that was challenged in court by claims that not enough research was done on potential environmental impacts. This means Shell, one of the dominant players for the lease, can start exploratory drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer once it gets the necessary air quality permits from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Sen. Mark Begich says he commends the Obama administration for incorporating recommendations from Alaskans, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski says it's a mixed bag.