In a surprising Monday move, the U.S. government approved Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer. The company has been pursuing drilling in the Arctic since 2007 and was set back by bad weather and mechanical failures in 2012. While the new drilling project will face tight restrictions, Royal Dutch Shell will be the first energy company to drill in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean.
Opening up the Arctic Ocean is a big step for the oil and gas industry, but it still leaves 87 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf off-limits to the industry. While it’s a good sign of progress, this “big step” isn’t enough for some members of Congress. Three bills were introduced to the Senate on Tuesday that aim to open up parts of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic to offshore drilling.
With the Interior Department considering drilling in the Atlantic for the first time in decades and Alaskan legislators calling for more ― not less ― oil and gas activity in the area, now is a great time to push the Obama administration to reconsider its restrictive drilling regulations and proposals.