Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Business, labor groups urge Arctic offshore oil lease sales

Business and labor groups launched a campaign Monday to include Arctic waters in the next federal five-year offshore oil leasing plan. The 20 groups, mostly based in Alaska, want the Obama administration to retain a Beaufort Sea lease sale in 2020 and a Chukchi Sea lease sale in 2022 within the five-year plan, which covers 2017-2022. A decision by the Interior Department is expected before the end of the year. Organized as the Arctic Coalition, the groups purchased a full-page ad in the Washington Post and plans a broadcast and social media campaign, said Lucas Frances, a spokesman for the Arctic Energy Center, one of the coalition groups. "It's a six-figure ad buy," Frances said. "It's focused, of course, to bring attention to the importance of keeping the Arctic leases in." Lease sales and Arctic offshore drilling is strongly supported by Alaska elected officials seeking new sources of oil to fill the trans-Alaska pipeline, now running at about one-quarter capacity. Arctic offshore drilling faces strong opposition by environmental groups. They say industrial activity will harm wildlife in a region already hit hard by climate warming and that petroleum companies have not demonstrated they can clean up spills in ice-choked waters. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in October cancelled Beaufort and Chukchi lease sales in the current five-year plan, citing market conditions and low industry interest...more

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