Quantcast
Popular
A drilling project off Alaska will be located in a polar bear habitat. Roderick Eime / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Arctic Oil Drilling Project Approved by Trump Administration

The Trump administration's unrelenting quest for Arctic oil and gas took a major step on Wednesday as it approved an energy company's controversial production plan.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the sensitive Beaufort Sea and threaten polar bears and Arctic communities.


Once built, it will be the first oil and gas production facility in federal waters off Alaska, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke boasted Wednesday in a press release.

"American energy dominance is good for the economy, the environment, and our national security," Zinke said. "Responsibly developing our resources, in Alaska especially, will allow us to use our energy diplomatically to aid our allies and check our adversaries. That makes America stronger and more influential around the globe."

Environmental worries about the Liberty Project are emphasized by Hilcorp's struggle last year to fix a natural gas leak from its underwater pipeline in Alaska's Cook Inlet. For nearly four months, the ruptured pipeline released roughly 200,000 cubic feet of methane a day into the inlet.

"If this company can't prevent or stop a gas leak in the Cook Inlet, it has no business in the Beaufort Sea," Miyoko Sakashita, the oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, wrote last year in a Medium post.

Hilcorp Gas Leak-Cook Inlet Feb 2017 www.youtube.com

The Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) appears confident of the safety and environmental impact of the new project:

BOEM used a rigorous evaluation process based on the best and most recent science available to evaluate the safety and environmental impacts of the Liberty Project. The plan was conditionally approved only after incorporating input from the public, and from North Slope communities and tribal organizations. As the project moves forward, BOEM will continue to work with Hilcorp to ensure all appropriate safeguards are stringently applied.

Approval conditions include: restricted drilling into the hydrocarbon-bearing zone, which may occur only during times of solid ice conditions; seasonal restrictions on activities and vessel traffic to reduce potential disturbance to Cross Island subsistence whaling activities; and obtaining all required permits from other state and federal agencies.

Dipika Kadaba / Center for Biological Diversity

However, the Center for Biological Diversity contends that Hilcorp has been the most heavily fined oil company in Alaska in recent years, with state regulators writing "disregard for regulatory compliance is endemic to Hilcorp's approach to its Alaska operations."

"Opening the Arctic to offshore oil drilling is a disaster waiting to happen" and will also be dangerous for the climate, Kristen Monsell, the organization's ocean legal director with the center, said in press release emailed to EcoWatch.

"This project sets us down a dangerous path of destroying the Arctic. An oil spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up and the region is already stressed by climate change," Monsell added. "We'll keep fighting this project and any new ones that follow. We won't passively watch the oil industry and this inept administration harm Arctic wildlife and leave a legacy of climate chaos."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
The battlefield of Verdun is part of France's Zone Rouge, cordoned off since the end of WWI. Oeuvre personnelle / Wikimedia Commons

This World War I Battlefield Is a Haunting Reminder of the Environmental Costs of War

World War I ended 100 years ago on Sunday, but 42,000 acres in northeast France serve as a living memorial to the human and environmental costs of war.

The battle of Verdun was the longest continuous conflict in the Great War, and it so devastated the land it took place on that, after the war, the government cordoned it off-limits to human habitation. What was once farmland became the Zone Rouge, or Red Zone, as National Geographic reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Waves from the Atlantic Ocean crash against a scenic beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This sandy peninsula is a popular summer vacation destination and is also known for its many Great White sharks. Velvetfish / iStock / Getty Images

Cape Cod’s Gray Seal and White Shark Problem Is Anything but Black-and-White

By Jason Bittel

On a sunny Saturday in mid-September, 26-year-old Arthur Medici was boogie-boarding in the waves off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, when a great white shark bit his leg. Despite the efforts of a friend who pulled him ashore and the paramedics who rushed him to the hospital, Medici died from his injuries. It's about as tragic a story as you can imagine: a young life cut short due to a freak run-in with a wild animal.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Max Pixel

Koch Industries Lobbies Against Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

By Dana Drugmand

Koch Industries is calling for the elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), all while claiming that it does not oppose plug-in cars and inviting the elimination of oil and gas subsidies that the petroleum conglomerate and its industry peers receive.

Outgoing Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller introduced a bill in September that would lift the sales cap on electric vehicles eligible for a federal tax credit, and replace the cap with a deadline that would dictate when the credit would start being phased out.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Pexels

10 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Neonics

By Daniel Raichel

As massive numbers of bees and other pollinators keep dying across the globe, study after study continues to connect these deaths to neonicotinoid pesticides (A.K.A. "neonics"). With the science piling up, and other countries starting to take critical pollinator-saving action, here's a quick primer on all things neonics:

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Judita Juknele / EyeEm / Getty Images

Lyme Disease Expected to Surge

By Marlene Cimons

German physician Alfred Buchwald had no clue that the chronic skin inflammation he described in 1883 was the first recorded case of a serious tick-carrying disease, one that would take hold in a small Connecticut town almost a century later and go on to afflict people across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Black rhino. Gerry Zambonini / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

China Restores Rhino and Tiger Parts Ban After International Fury

Great news from China! Following intense international backlash, the Chinese government said Monday that it has postponed a regulation that would have allowed the use of tiger bone and rhino horn for medicine, research and other purposes.

In October, China alarmed animal rights activists around the world when it weakened a 25-year-old ban on the trading of the animal parts. Conservationists said it would be akin to signing a "death warrant" for endangered tiger and rhino populations.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The federal government must consider endangered species like sea otters before issue fracking permits off California's southern coast. Danita Delimon / Gallo Images / Getty Images

Judge: Wildlife Must Be Considered Before Permitting Fracking Off SoCal Coast

In what environmentalists are calling a major victory, a California judge ruled Friday that the Trump administration cannot approve any new fracking off the state's southern coast until a full review is done assessing the controversial technique's impact on endangered species and coastal resources, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!