In 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Alaska’s North Slope, a region that has long been eyed by Shell as an area for development. As he prepared to leave the state, he spoke to reporters.
We know that it would be very difficult to mount the kind of oil spill response that has been mounted in the Gulf of Mexico. And so because those questions are very much part of what we have been dealing with, it also seemed necessary for us to say, until we have answers to some of those central questions, we’re not going to allow the drilling of the exploration wells.
Apparently he got all the answers he needed. As Businessweek reports:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the federal government will announce its five-year offshore lease plan later this week and it will include targeted areas off Alaska’s northern coast.
Salazar says the Arctic lease sales will be in areas with high petroleum potential, but low conflict with environmental resources.
This will come as a great disappointment to the gigantic, well-meaning fakers behind the anti-Shell “Arctic Ready” campaign. Best known for the broken drill booze spill, the Greenpeace-affiliated crew sought to stymie Shell’s efforts to explore in the region. Understandably: The impacts of a Deepwater Horizon-style spill in a region much more remote are hard to imagine.
Deepwater, of course, helps explain the administration’s change of heart. In 2010, the government was reacting to broad outrage about the spill. The leak was only plugged a month before Salazar’s visit to Alaska. In 2012, Salazar’s boss is running for reelection, promising to bring America more jobs (in highly desired locales like the frozen North) and to have an “all-of-the-above” energy plan.
We can take some small solace in Salazar’s use of the phrase “low conflict with environmental resources.” We can only assume it will be applied stringently, meaning that drilling gear and associated vehicles will have limited to no contact with the things that comprise our “environment”: air, water, land. Shell will most likely be forced to find already existing holes leading down to oil deposits, into which they are allowed to insert (biodegradable!) bamboo straws. Through the natural process of capillary action, oil will be removed and converted into wholesome, healthy water using magic and then given to thirsty orphans.
This is basic science, people. Look it up.