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Opinion: Obama’s OK of Arctic oil drilling surprises environmental groups

Someone must have spliced some of Sarah Palin’s “drill, baby, drill,” DNA into President Barack Obama for his administration to willingly grant even conditional approval for Shell Gulf of Mexico to drill for oil off the Alaskan coast this summer.

It’s like a solar energy manufacturer deciding to open a gasoline station in its front lot. The Obama administration shift is a huge blow to environmental groups. They had depended on the president to prevent offshore Arctic drilling, fearing it potentially could do more damage than the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010.

The Deepwater Horizon rig blew up, killing 11 persons and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. It took weeks to contain the spill, and multibillion-dollar cleanup from that environmental disaster is still ongoing.

Oil industry and environmental groups agree that the Chukchi Sea is one of the most dangerous places to drill, The New York Times reports. Yet, the Interior Department’s approval for Shell Gulf of Mexico was conditional.

It depends on Shell receiving approval of state and federal drilling permits for the project. That includes permits from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Shell wants to drill up to six wells in the Burger Prospect, about 70 miles off the northwest coast of Alaska. Shell has spent about $6 billion so far on Arctic offshore oil exploration.

The region is thought to hold up to 15 billions barrels of oil. The company promises to be environmentally responsible.

In related news, Arctic drilling protesters set up at Shell Seattle facility.

This article was written by Lewis Diuguid from The Kansas City Star and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.