Key Obama advisers call for halt to offshore Arctic drilling

Two top advisers to President Obama today called for a pause in permitting for Arctic offshore drilling following problems plaguing Shell's first season in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. "With each new fiasco, the array of voices raising concerns about preparedness has grown broader," write Carol Browner, a former EPA administrator and former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change policy under Obama, and John Podesta, chairman of the Center for American Progress, in an op-ed for Bloomberg News.

Early reaction to the column comes via The Guardian:


Both writers are associated with the Center for American Progress, which operates as an incubator of liberal ideas and has been almost uniformly supportive of Obama's policies.

Campaign groups saw the shift from Podesta and Browner as a sign that Obama, too, could be open to reversing his initial decision to open up the Arctic to offshore drilling.

"The messengers are what make this particular op-ed important," said Michael LeVine, senior counsel for Oceana.

There was no immediate response from Shell.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that Shell's rivals are silent about Shell's problems but are watching closely. And the Houston Chronicle, in a piece to be published Sunday, asks whether the risks of Arctic offshore drilling are worth taking when oil and gas production in easier-to-access Lower 48 deposits is increasing so rapidly.