Shell oil drilling in Arctic set to get US government permission

Controversial decision expected from US interior secretary likely to spark protests from campaigners against Anglo-Dutch exploration in seas off Alaska

By Terry Macalister

The Guardian US

The US government is expected this week to give the go-ahead to a controversial plan by Shell to restart drilling for oil in the Arctic.

The green light from Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, will spark protests from environmentalists who have campaigned against proposed exploration by the Anglo-Dutch group in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska.

Jewell will make a formal statement backing the decision as soon as Wednesday, the earliest point at which her department can rubber-stamp an approval given last month given by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The US Interior Department had been forced to replay the decision-making process after a US federal court ruled last year, in a case brought by environmental groups, that the government had made mistakes in assessing the environmental risks in the drilling programme.

However, the BOEM, an arm of Jewell’s department, has backed the drilling after going through the process again, despite revealing in its Environmental Impact Statement “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills” occurring.

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