The U.S. Department of the Interior is allowing Shell oil to proceed with initial drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, but is not letting the company drill into oil-bearing zones. Republicans in the House of Representatives say this is a positive move, but are not ready to praise the Obama administration’s policy just yet.
“Interior’s announcement is a positive step, but it should not take six years to obtain a simple exploration permit, and the Obama administration still has yet to issue the final green light for energy production in the Arctic,” said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Shell faced numerous setbacks before winning Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permits for emissions from its drilling ship.
The House, with 23 Democrats joining Republicans, last year passed Gardner’s bill that would set new deadlines for EPA action on permit applications, limit challenges, and ease air pollution standards for offshore projects, but the measure has yet to be heard in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
EPA on Aug. 31 said it plans to issue another order that will allow Shell to proceed with the drilling project in the Chukchi, even while the request to alter the permits remains under review.