Offshore drilling allowed in Native whaling area

The Minerals Management Service says offshore drilling won't disrupt Alaska Native subsistence whaling in the Beaufort Sea.

Shell Oil plans to drill two exploratory oil and gas wells next year. MMS says operations will cease during the entirety of the whaling season, from August 25, 2010 through October 31, 2010.

“The Minerals Management Service is committed to responsibly developing offshore energy resources,” MMS Director Liz Birnbaum said in a press release yesterday. “Now that we have approved Shell’s plan and reached this important milestone, we will continue to work with Shell to ensure that all activities are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked MMS from approving some of Shell's other leases out of concern for Native subsistence whaling.

Get the Story:
Shell gets conditional OK for Beaufort Sea drilling plan (The Anchorage Daily News 10/20)
Shell wins federal approval to drill for oil off Alaska coast (The Washington Post 10/20)
Shell gets conditional OK for Beaufort drilling (AP 10/19)