History of the Polar Regions|
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 97 10:37:42 CST
From: rich@pencil.CC.WAYNE.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Interior Department Denies Bid To Block Arctic Oil Drilling
/** headlines: 179.0 **/
** Topic: Interior Department Denies Bid To Block Arctic Oil Drilling **
** Written 6:39 PM Nov 6, 1997 by econet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 7:42 AM Nov 4, 1997 by email@example.com in list.ar-news */
/* ---------- "(US)Arctic Oil Drilling" ---------- */
05:20 PM ET 11/03/97
Interior denies bid to block Arctic oil drilling
By Vicki Allen, Reuter
3 November 1997
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Interior Department in a letter
released Monday rejected a petition from environmental groups
seeking to halt oil and natural gas drilling off the coast of
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Atlantic Richfield Co.'s plan to search for oil in the
Beaufort Sea off the Arctic refuge has adequate safeguards to
protect the area that is home to abundant wildlife including
polar bears, musk oxen and caribou, the department said in a
letter released by environmental groups.
The exploratory drilling plan "has been meticulously
reviewed so that it is responsive to stringent regulatory
requirements...," the letter from Cynthia Quarterman, director
of the department's Minerals Management Service (MMS), said.
The MMS, which handles oil and natural gas leases for
federal lands and coastal waters, approved the project in
The project has since been the target of environmental
protests, including an attempt by Greenpeace to physically block
ARCO from moving a huge drilling platform to waters off the
Nine groups last month petitioned Interior Secretary Bruce
Babbitt to block ARCO from drilling in the Beaufort Sea about
3.5 miles off the wildlife refuge's coast.
The groups that included the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club
and Northern Alaska Environmental Center, said Babbitt should
halt the project under a law that gives him power to suspend
drilling in specific waters or to cancel oil and gas lease sales
and refund the purchasers.
Their petition said oil and gas development would imperil
wildlife and the pristine ecosystem through pollution from waste
discharges and potential oil spills.
"The administration is allowing ARCO to proceed with a
risky drilling plan that leaves the entire coastline of the
refuge open to the threat of a massive oil spill," Brian
O'Donnell, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League,
said in a statement.
But Quarterman, writing in Babbitt's behalf, said the
administration's policies would protect the refuge.
"The secretary has asked that I make it unequivocally clear
that this administration and this department are fully committed
to the protection of the ANWR," she said, adding that no
drilling activity would be allowed in its borders.
The Clinton administration has repeatedly rejected oil
industry demands to be allowed to drill inside ANWR's coastal
plain, but sold ARCO rights to explore offshore of the refuge.