Monday, October 26, 2015

224.1 - Good News: Interior Dept. cancels plans to sell leases to drill for oil in the Arctic

Good News: Interior Dept. cancels plans to sell leases to drill for oil in the Arctic

Okay, let's start out with some good news, okay?

I mentioned a few weeks ago what I called the "pretty good news" that Shell had pulled out of drilling for oil in the Arctic "for the foreseeable future," the limiting description "pretty" good news driven by the fact that Shell's withdrawal was only for "the foreseeable future," not permanently.

Well, now we can add some strength to that good news.

Faced with dwindling industry interest as exemplified by Shell and continued complaints from environmentalists who want the area protected, the Obama administration has cancelled two planned sales of leases to drill in the Arctic Ocean. One sale was planned for 2016, the other for 2017.

part of the Arctic Ocean
What's more, the Interior Department has rejected the requests of Shell and Statoil for more time to consider drilling under their current leases, which start expiring in 2017. Which means Shell's "foreseeable future" may well be stretching out further than the company imagined.

The drill-baby-drill caucus was, as expected, quick to denounce the cancellation of the sales. Rep. Rob Bishop, who, frighteningly, chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said that Obama "has once again played directly into Russia’s hands" by blocking drilling in the environmentally-sensitive waters.

This isn't the end of the issue, of course, not with Arctic Ocean drilling lease sales still planned for 2020 and 2022. But the cancellation of lease sales over the next two years is still welcome and with any luck and a lot of work on our parts, drilling in the Arctic - or anywhere else, for that matter - may make even less sense in 2020 than it does now.

And wouldn't that be good news.

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