Kiley Kroh and Michael Conathan of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress wonder why the U.S. Department of the Interior has decided to let Shell Oil drill in the Beaufort Sea this year until Oct. 31 but ordered a 38-day shorter drilling period in Shell's Chukchi Sea permit. In the Chukchi permit, the feds stipulated the 38 days as a buffer between drilling and ice-up to allow for cleanup of a late-season oil spill. No such buffer is being applied in the Beaufort Sea.
The inherent contradiction of allowing drilling to continue until November in the Beaufort when it would be shut down in late September in the Chukchi leads us to question the strength of the standard by which accountability will be measured. There's no reason to think that if drilling is unsafe in one part of the Arctic in October, it would be safe in another.
Perhaps more importantly, yesterday's approval will make it more difficult for the administration to defend its position from Shell's challenge that a shorter Chukchi season is unnecessary.
Read more at Think Progress.