Sep 28, 2015 9:10 PM

The Latest: EarthJustice: Obama should end Arctic drilling

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) The latest on Royal Dutch Shell ending exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

An attorney for an environmental law firm is hoping that Shell's departure from the Alaska Arctic is just the first step.

Erik Grafe (GRAF'-ee) with EarthJustice say Shell's announcement Monday that it's ceasing its drilling operations is "fantastic" news for the Arctic and removes a major threat to wildlife.

Grafe says it also provides a "wonderful" opportunity for the Obama administration to shut down drilling in the Arctic Ocean for good.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker sees it differently. He says he will soon meet with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and wants a separate meeting at the White House to stress the importance of allowing drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska's state budget is heavily dependent upon oil revenue.

Walker said at a news conference Monday: "We need to get some oil in the pipeline and we need to do it as quickly as possible, and in the safest method possible."


4:10 p.m.

The head of an Alaska-based pro-industry group says she worries about the loss of support jobs and investment with Royal Dutch Shell's departure from the Arctic.

Kara Moriarty is president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. She said Shell had between 600 to 800 workers on shift, and another 600 to 800 waiting to replace them as they came off a two- or three-week rotation this summer.

Besides the billions of dollars Shell invested in its Arctic drilling program, she says they probably spent another billion this summer in exploring one test well. Disappointing results from that well led Shell to announce Monday it was ceasing its Alaska Arctic operations for the foreseeable future.

Moriarty also says other companies holding leases in the Arctic were waiting to see what Shell did. Now she worries we won't see any offshore Alaska drilling for decades.


11:20 a.m.

Alaska's senior senator is calling on the Obama administration to work with Alaskans to develop a clear path for drilling in the Arctic.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski urges the administration to developing a legitimate, predictable and sensible regulatory system that will encourage oil companies to invest in Alaska, both onshore and off.

She made the statement Monday on the heels of Shell saying it will cease Arctic operations, in part due to unpredictable federal regulations.

Alaska's junior senator, Republican Dan Sullivan, said environmental groups are cheering the news, but he says it's a sad day for Alaska and working Americans.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley countered it's tremendous news, and a credit to the people who made clear that Arctic drilling in unacceptable.

The Democrat says the U.S. should "seize the moment" and use its chairmanship of the Arctic Council to develop and agreement to end offshore drill among all Arctic nations.


10:25 a.m.

The president of the Alaska Native regional corporation for I upiat living on the Arctic Slope said the news that Royal Dutch Shell is ceasing exploratory drilling in the Arctic is a major blow for Alaska.

Rex A. Rock Sr. with the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. says the timing is bad as Alaska is facing a "financial crisis" because of low oil prices and dwindling production from Prudhoe Bay.

Rock says it also hits close to home to for communities dependent upon oil production.

Without resource development both on- and off-shore, he says they are facing "a fiscal crisis beyond measure."

Shell also cited "the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment" in deciding to end drilling in the Alaska Arctic for the foreseeable future.

Rock says that regulatory environment has proven to be a burden to development. He adds it will lead to more good opportunities slipping away because "no one wants to do business in Alaska."


9:58 a.m.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says Royal Dutch Shell's decision to stop exploratory drilling in the Arctic shows the state needs to drive its own destiny through oil and gas development.

Shell said Monday that it was ending operations in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska after a test well gave disappointing results. The company has spent $7 billion on its Alaska drilling program.

Walker says he's contacted the White House to set up meetings about the impact of Shell's decision on the state. The governor also says he will stress the importance of the federal government allowing oil and gas drilling along the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Alaska's budget relies heavily on oil revenue, but production from the once-prodigious North Slope now barely fills a quarter of the trans-Alaska pipeline.


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