Trump moves to loosen Arctic drilling rules
- Nov 21, 2020
- Katy Rancher
WASHINGTON - The Trump administration is moving to loosen rules around offshore drilling in the Arctic in a bid to encourage oil and gas development there.
The Department of Interior has proposed cutting almost half of the existing regulations, which it described as "unnecessary" and "burdensome."
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"As countries like Russia increase their presence in the Arctic – including the use of U.S. technologies to develop their seabed resources, it is increasingly important to ensure that the United States has a strong presence in the Arctic,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior Kate MacGregor said in a statement. “The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas have a long legacy of oil and gas development. We believe these proposed revisions will better harness new technological innovation and best science to allow for responsible domestic energy development.”
To date, offshore drilling off Alaska's northern coast has largely proven unsuccessful, with Royal Dutch Shell pulling its offshore operations there in 2015. Not that they have given up entirely.
In August Shell told Alaska officials they were planning on drilling some leases they hold in the Beaufort Sea, near existing onshore oil and gas production, according to the research firm S&P Global Platts.
The move by the Trump administration comes with just two months to go until President-elect Joe Biden takes office, amidst a final push to curtail environmental regulations of which industry has long been critical and open up federal lands and waters to energy companies.
Last week the Interior Department announced plans to auction off oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — 19 million acres of mostly untouched wilderness where Biden has opposed development - before Trump leaves office in January.
That has drawn push back from environmentalists and the Native Americans who live in that region of Alaska.
"The Trump Administration’s plan to auction off our sacred lands in the Arctic Refuge for oil drilling disrespects our human rights, ignores public opinion and denies the crisis of climate change,” Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the steering committee for the Gwich’in tribe, said in a statement.