Frontier Areas: The Arctic


White House Releases Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region

“The Implementation Plan complements and builds upon existing initiatives by Federal, State, local, and tribal authorities, the private sector, and international partners, and also focuses efforts where opportunities exist and action is most needed. It is designed to meet the reality of a changing Arctic environment and uphold our interests in safety and security, protect the environment, and work with international partners to pursue our global objective of combating the effects of climate change as described in the Presidents Climate Action Plan.”  The Plan is available HERE

Brookings issues report on “Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.”

As the U.S. prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, The Brookings Institution issued a policy brief designed to inform the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government of the current state of oil and gas governance in the Arctic, and to address the following questions: How can the U.S. elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest? How can the U.S. lead in strengthening offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic?  The report is available HERE

BOEM Completes Environmental Review for Geological and Geophysical Survey Activities Off the Atlantic Coast

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today published a final environmental review of geological and geophysical (G&G) survey activities off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast that establishes multiple mitigation measures designed to minimize the impacts to marine life while setting a path forward for survey activities that will update nearly four-decade-old data on offshore energy resources in the region.        Read More

Federal standards needed for safe Arctic drilling, Pew says

Hunting for offshore oil in remote and unforgiving Arctic waters requires vessels capable of withstanding crushing blows from icebergs, a nearby stash of emergency equipment and other specialized resources, according to a new report from Pew Charitable Trusts.        Read More

Oil and Gas Producers issue Good Practices Guide for the Arctic

“This new good practice guide, prepared by experts from some of the leading companies with Arctic interests, consolidates and updates two previous documents covering onshore activities (1993) and offshore 2002). The good practices featured in the report run the gamut from the earliest pre-bid risk assessments studies to decommissioning and restoration; taking in the essential phases of exploration and appraisal, and development and operations. It complements the Arctic offshore oil and gas guidelines of the Arctic Council (2009)”

The full guide is available HERE

White House Issues National Strategy for the Arctic Region

The White House

The” National Strategy for the Arctic Region” sets forth the United States Government’s strategic priorities for the Arctic region      Read More


Special Report: Arctic Drilling


Business intelligence firm RepRisk provided a special report on controversies surrounding the Arctic energy development projects of Shell, Cairn, Gazprom, ExxonMobil and Statoil.      Read More


Commissioner Beinecke gives Reasons Why She Believes Offshore Drilling in the Arctic Cannot Be Done Safely

Frances Beinecke

Even the best-prepared, best-equipped, and most technologically advanced oil company has no business drilling for oil in the Arctic. It is simply not possible to do it safely here.      Read More


Interagency Working Group Calls for Integrated Management and Planning for a Rapidly Changing Arctic

Department of Interior
An interagency working group chaired by Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes today released a report that calls for an integrated management strategy for the rapidly changing Arctic. The report highlights the need for a coordinated approach that uses the best available science to integrate cultural, environmental and economic factors in decision-making about development and conservation. The Full Report is available HERE

Department of the Interior Releases Assessment of Shell’s 2012 Arctic Operations
DOI Press Release

The assessment found that Shell entered the 2012 drilling season without having finalized key components of its program, including its Arctic Challenger containment system, which put pressure on Shell’s operations and schedule and limited Shell from drilling into oil-bearing zones last summer. Weaknesses in Shell’s management of contractors on whom they relied for many critical aspects of its program – including development of its containment system, emission controls to comply with air permits, and maritime operations – led to many of the problems that the company experienced. Read More


With 2 Ships Damaged, Shell Suspends Arctic Drilling
New York Times

After a series of costly and embarrassing accidents in its efforts to drill exploratory wells off the north coast of Alaska last year, Royal Dutch Shell announced on Wednesday that it would not return to the Arctic in 2013. Read More


NOAA, BOEM plan supplemental Arctic oil, gas draft EIS

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management are preparing a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (EIS) analyzing how a broader range of potential Arctic offshore oil and gas activities could affect marine mammals, other resources, and Alaska Native communities,  Read More


National Science and Technology Office issues Arctic Research Plan

The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) is charged with developing five-year plans for Federally sponsored research in the Arctic region. For 2013 to 2017, the IARPC, which consists of representatives from 14 Federal agencies, departments, and offices, has identified seven research areas that will inform national policy and benefit significantly from close interagency coordination. They are:

  1. Sea ice and marine ecosystems;
  2. Terrestrial ice and ecosystems;
  3. Atmospheric studies of surface heat, energy, and mass balances;
  4. Observing systems;
  5. Regional climate models;
  6. Adaptation tools for sustaining communities; and
  7.  Human health.

Read More


Why We Now Oppose Drilling in the Arctic
By Carol Browner & John Podesta
Bloomberg News

We were open to offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic provided oil companies and the government could impose adequate safeguards, ensure sufficient response capacity and develop a deeper understanding of how oil behaves in ice and freezing water. Now, following a series of mishaps and errors, as well as overwhelming weather conditions, it has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean. Read More


UK Environmental Audit Committee publishes report on Protecting the Arctic
UK Parliament Environmental Audit Committee

In a report on Protecting the Arctic, the Environmental Audit Committee calls for a halt on oil drilling until:

  • A pan-Arctic oil spill response standard is in place
  • A stricter financial liability regime for oil and gas operations is introduced that requires companies to prove that they can meet the costs of cleaning up
  • An oil and gas industry group is set up to peer-review companies’ spill response plans and operating practices, reporting publicly
  • Further independent research and testing on oil spill response techniques in Arctic conditions is conducted, including an assessment of their environmental side-effects
  • An internationally recognized environmental sanctuary is established in at least part of the Arctic

Read More


Department of Interior initiates integrated Arctic Management Strategy
Department of Interior, Office of the Deputy Secretary

A memo by the Deputy Secretary began the implementation of Executive Order 13580 which established the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska (the Alaska Interagency Working Group) in order to facilitate the orderly and environmentally sound development of renewable and conventional energy in the oceans, coastal regions, and interior lands of Alaska. In addition to coordinating on-going permitting activities related to energy development in Alaska, the Alaska Interagency Working Group will address two key systemic issues: (1) sharing of scientific and environmental information; and (2) developing a framework for making integrated Arctic management decisions.   Read More


The Arctic Institute released a three part series on offshore drilling in the Arctic
The Arctic Institute

Part One provides a thorough legal background on Arctic drilling. Part Two analyzes how Arctic drilling plans have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. Part Three summarizes the Institute’s concerns and makes some recommendations which are consistent with those made by the Oil Spill Commission. 


Arctic Ocean Drilling Stands to Open New Oil Frontier
New York Times

WASHINGTON – Shortly before Thanksgiving in 2010, the leaders of the commission President Obama had appointed to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico sat down in the Oval Office to brief him. After listening to their… Read More