President Barack Obama's administration on Monday approved petroleum giant Shell's request to begin drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Sea under certain conditions, despite opposition from environmental groups.
The decision by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted Shell the right to explore the Chukchi Sea as long as the correct permits are obtained by agencies that regulate the environment and marine mammal health.
We have taken a thoughtful approach to carefully considering potential exploration in the Chukchi Sea, said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.
As we move forward, any offshore exploratory activities will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards.
Environmental groups have opposed drilling in the Arctic due to the vulnerability of animals that are already struggling to the melting sea ice, and the risk that an oil spill would pose to the region.
Once again, our government has rushed to approve risky and ill-conceived exploration in one of the most remote and important places on Earth, said Oceana deputy vice president Susan Murray.
In April 2010, the explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the sea.