As the Obama administration is currently undertaking a 60-day “Expedited Assessment of 2012 Arctic Operations,” an Interior Department investigation that will dictate whether Shell can continue pursuing Outer Continental Shelf drilling in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off the state’s North Slope. Governor Sean Parnell took to the Wall Street Journal to outline two facts that the Alaska governor said are often overlooked by environmental activists, many of whom have never been to Alaska, that are attempting to use this transportation incident as an excuse to pressure the White House to suspend offshore-drilling permits.
Parnell said that first; no one cares about Alaska’s environment more than the Alaskans who live there. Second, oil producers want to maximize their profit, and mishaps like Kulluk grounding hurt their bottom line. Maritime accidents are in no one’s interest.
For Alaska’s economy and America’s energy security, I hope Shell and other energy producers choose to keep their drilling operations in Alaska. But they are rightly concerned about federal hurdles (in the form of permitting delays, investigations, etc.) as they consider whether to drill in Alaska or move investment dollars abroad under more favorable regulatory conditions.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is leaving his post in March, has repeatedly said that Arctic oil exploration is an important part of the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy strategy.
Parnell said that in this case, with America’s national-security interests and its economic interests in jobs and energy on the line, we will learn whether the Obama administration is truly committed to that “all of the above” approach.