Arctic Drilling Rules Under White House Microscope

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Aug. 18, 2014, 2:10 a.m.

6:12 a.m. — The In­teri­or De­part­ment is get­ting closer to un­veil­ing draft drilling safety rules for oil com­pan­ies that hope to pro­duce en­ergy in Arc­tic wa­ters off Alaska’s north­ern coast. On Fri­day In­teri­or’s off­shore safety branch sent the pro­pos­al to the White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget (OMB) 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 the in­dustry lacks the abil­ity to con­tain po­ten­tial spills in the re­mote seas. —Ben Ge­man

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