EPA Blocks Oil Drilling in Alaska

In his weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama said that “there’s no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away,” but that one thing America can do is pursue “safe and responsible production of oil at home.”

Apparently, the pursuit of “safe and responsible production of oil at home” is something we “can do,” but is something his administration will not allow.

Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied Shell Oil Company’s plan to drill its initial exploratory test in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. A ruling by the Environmental Appeals Board of the EPA has ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project.

Fox News reports that the EPA is withholding necessary air permits because of a one square mile village of 245 people, 70 miles from the off-shore drilling site.

At stake is an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. That’s how much the U. S. Geological Survey believes is in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. For perspective, that represents two and a half times more oil than has flowed down the Trans Alaska pipeline throughout its 30-year history. That pipeline is getting dangerously low on oil. At 660,000 barrels a day, it’s carrying only one-third its capacity.

Production on the North Slope of Alaska is declining at a rate of about 7 percent a year. If the volume gets much lower, pipeline officials say they will have to shut it down.

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. The Interior Department issues air permits to oil companies working in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the US Geological Survey, the Artic Regions of the world hold 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources.

It’s a shame that the President is interested in pursuing “safe and responsible production of oil at home” in words alone.

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