The Obama led administration has cancelled its initial plans to sell oil drilling rights in the Artic sea through 2017, a remarkable turn around since expanding drilling by approving new drilling permits for Shell Oil earlier this year.
But Royal Dutch Shell decision to Suspend to suspend its oil exploration last month in Offshore Alaskan waters citing disappointing results from a well in chukchi sea prompted the Interior Department to cancel further oil leases.
“In light of Shell’s announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
The Obama administration came under heavy criticism from environmental groups after permitting shell to drill even as the president was embarking on a three day trip to alaska to highlight the effect of climate change in the Artic. Those same groups applauded Friday’s move, with the Natural Resources Defense Council calling it “an essential reprieve” for Arctic Waters.
“The next step should be to take Arctic and Atlantic waters off the table to oil and gas drilling for good,” said NRDC’s Franz Matzner.
Also Friday, the department also denied requests by Shell
and the Norwegian company Statoil to extend existing years beyond 10 years. Both companies had asked for five-year extensions, arguing that they should have more time
because regulations had prevented them from exploring for
oil. Without those extensions, the leases will expire by 2020.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the decision was
“absurd.” The Interior Department is throwing up
regulatory roadblocks to prevent drilling, she said — and
then using the lack of drilling to justify canceling the lease
“This is a stunning, short-sighted move that betrays the Interior Department’s commitments to Alaska and the best interests of our nation’s long-term energy security,” said Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee.
“Today’s decision is the latest in a destructive pattern of hostility toward energy production in our state that began the first day this administration took office, and continued ever since”
Source : USA Today