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Can Arctic Drilling Be Done Safely? Can Arctic Drilling Be Done Safely?

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Can Arctic Drilling Be Done Safely?



The Interior Department is putting the finishing touches on new safety standards for oil-drilling operations off the northern coast of Alaska.

National Journal's Ben Geman writes: "On Friday Interior's offshore safety branch sent the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The rules are designed to 'promote safe, responsible, and effective drilling activities ... while also ensuring the protection of Alaska's coastal communities and the marine environment,' according to OMB's website. Royal Dutch Shell and other companies that hold leases in the region hope to tap large deposits under the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. But environmentalists say the region is too ecologically fragile to develop and that industry lacks the ability to contain potential spills in the remote seas." 


What should the rule look like, and how can it be written to most effectively minimize the risk of an accident or a spill? Do the potential benefits outweigh the risks of Arctic drilling, or should the administration take Arctic waters off the table when it comes to fossil-fuel exploration and development?

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