Green Room

Another Drilling Halt: Your Taxpayer-Funded Regulators at Work for You

posted at 5:42 pm on April 25, 2011 by

Fortunately, the EPA is already saving us from lower gasoline prices.  Gateway Pundit and others picked up today on the news that Shell has had to stop drilling off the coast of Alaska because of EPA regulations.  The EPA has withheld the permit needed for Shell to operate an icebreaker, because of the ship’s emissions and their potential impact on the 250 residents of Kaktovik, Alaska, 70 miles from the drilling site.

One thing that’s odd about this is that the issue for the EPA is the icebreaking ship.  The Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north coast is covered with sea ice more than 10 months out of the year.  For 6-8 weeks in August and September each year, the ice recedes, leaving an un-iced area up to 70 miles from the coast.

But the icepack makes navigation impossible without an icebreaker for all of the other 10 months – and in all areas where sea ice is prevalent and subject to break-up, commercial navigation is normally assisted with icebreaking at any time of year.  (The Russians have tales to tell about ships that tried to transit their northern coast without icebreaking support, in the late summer, and had to be abandoned in early fall after they had gotten stuck in the ice and couldn’t be dislodged.)

So all significant seafaring activity off the Alaskan coast in this area requires icebreaking services virtually all year.  Shell isn’t the only economic actor contracting for icebreaking services.  Most commercial maritime traffic operates within 70 miles of the coast – meaning that’s where the icebreakers will be cutting swaths through the ice and emitting their emissions – because that’s where the ice tends to be youngest and thinnest.

Even if Shell were the only entity contracting for icebreaking services, the company has been doing it for some time now, as indicated by this industry press release from the Norwegian agency that supplied an icebreaker to support Shell’s drilling in the Beaufort Sea in 2007.  Besides the fact that the icebreaking has been going on, Shell has been doing oil industry work in the area at least that long – which means the EPA isn’t shutting this operation down in an early stage.

It’s not clear at this point what has changed (emission standards tightened?  A particular icebreaker emitting too much?), but plenty of icebreaking has been allowed in the Beaufort Sea before.  Even global warming believers venture into the Beaufort Sea on icebreakers.

J.E. Dyer blogs at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions” and as The Optimistic Conservative.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

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And yet, we are supposed to believe that the run-up in fuel prices has nothing to do with this administration!

sirnapsalot on April 25, 2011 at 6:52 PM

A friend of mine was an engineer working for Arco Petroleum some years ago (before they were purchased). His job required him to fly by helicopter from Ancorage to Pt. Barrow every couple of weeks. Great photos of a very clean environment replete with pumping stations, oil pipeline, living quarters. All this developement done very cleanly (this is almost 20 years ago). And in the ensuing years the oil companies have gotten even cleaner, better at not making a bad name or press for themselves. Yes, go ahead and mention the Gulf spill one more time, but overall the last 40 years has seen very little of this problem, especially when compared with the naturally occuring seepage from vents deep undersea.

This is purely bureaucratic BS. And, I believe, part of a larger, long term effort to cripple America and our economy.

Vote early, vote often……………

Robert17 on April 25, 2011 at 7:25 PM

They will rue the day they had sent us out into the streets…

It could well be the end of their party before it’s all over and I hope it is! They can reform as the Socialist or Communist party and that would also be fine with me.

The #1 rule:
DO NOT pi$$ Americans off!

Every so often we have to demonstrate why.

golfmann on April 25, 2011 at 8:32 PM

pathetic. And where are our brave GOP to reaail against sandbagging our economy, much less the workers who directly or indirectly relie on Shell continuing to operate in Alaska????

AH_C on April 25, 2011 at 8:48 PM




gryphon202 on April 25, 2011 at 9:20 PM

Again why hasn’t this man and this administration been impeached? How far can he go? If not now, when?

odannyboy on April 25, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Why is this taking place?…

…Because it’s bad for America, of course.

This is the only constant with our alleged administration.

hillbillyjim on April 26, 2011 at 1:33 AM

Death by a 1,000 cuts.

Bishop on April 26, 2011 at 8:36 AM

Are they trying to make Sarah Palin the next president?

The campaign commercials write themselves

Head to the North Slope with a camera crew and show where oil should be flowing from – oil that would markedly reduce the price of domestic gasoline.

turfmann on April 26, 2011 at 8:46 AM

THIS should be required reading for every wacko enviromentalist and politician.

Firmworm on April 26, 2011 at 8:47 AM

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times. Obama is the enemy of These United States. He was selected to be the one who puts the final nail in the US, Capitalism, and the freedoms that we enjoy so much. He is following the orders of George Soros who hates Capitalism as much as he hates Jews, and he was born a Jew. If you look at the individual things Obama has done you will be tempted to say he is dumb, uninformed, or incompetent. Well, back off and look at the whole picture. He gives the Labor Union a large portion of GM, 55% of Chrysler. Unions are Socialistic in their formation. Everyone earns the same, can’t be fired, and the Leadership is draining the workers for every cent they can. Obama has ignored every Economist and poured trillions of dollars into the street to shore up failing business. Look at ll of this and his insistence that he MUST have a debt limit increase of another Trillion indicates that he is doing all he can to destroy the credit and word of the United States.

old war horse on April 26, 2011 at 8:56 AM

This measure is absolutely necessary to prevent the exodus of millions of refugees from Alaska which will result from the global warming caused by the ship’s emissions, which will probably cause another civil war as states fight over whose responsibility it is to take them in. The resulting turmoil will cripple the US economy making it impossible for us to redistribute wealth to the 3rd world, which will start a third world war as poor nations fight over the remaining resources that America hasn’t yet stolen.

Sharke on April 26, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Someone shold ask 0Bama – Are the EPA regulators more powerful than the President of the United States?

pappy on April 26, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Now he is starving us of oil and energy. We have natural resources for two hundred years but we are supposed to ride bicycles or the train. Obama said he wanted gas here at the price in Europe and they are paying about $8 a gallon. Diesel fuel is over $4 and rising. This will raise the cost on every product they haul. Food has already gone up about 20% and is still going up. Obama is the enemy and wants to destroy us.

old war horse on April 26, 2011 at 9:09 AM

It is idiocy for a nation to allow itself to be shot down into oblivion because some idiots want to gain a lot of wealth by strangling the US of energy. Trump is looking like a pretty damn good alternative to this Harvard grad in the White House. Palin is an absolute dream in place of Zero.

Herb on April 26, 2011 at 9:12 AM

golfmann on April 25, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Respectfully disagree. Americans have lost the courage to defend freedom. Witness the case in Michigan. A jury was to frightened of the prospect of Muslim “violence” to defend the Constitution. So, threatening violence, now trumps the Law.

As certainly as we mark July 4th, 1776 as the date of this country’s birth, we can mark the date of that jury’s decision as the date of this country’s death. Too few people are willing to fight for liberty. Too many people believe that The State will be a Benevolent Master. History is littered with bodies of fools who believed the same thing. The United States of America – barring a miracle – is about to join them.

oldleprechaun on April 26, 2011 at 9:20 AM

Are we ready for real tar and real feathers yet. These regulators are well paid and don’t really suffer for their remote decisions. When there are true consequences for decisions like this then maybe, just maybe common sense will return.

chemman on April 26, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Hey, I can see Russia on that map! – Tina Fey

ExpressoBold on April 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Disbanding the EPA needs to be one of first things done by the next administration.

Slowburn on April 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Besides the fact that the icebreaking has been going on, Shell has been doing oil industry work in the area at least that long – which means the EPA isn’t shutting this operation down in an early stage.

I’m sure it all went according to plan.

There’s always risk of government regulation. But when the government leases you something for a specific purpose and then refuses to let you use it for the purpose you leased it, that’s outright fraud.

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion.

The United States Federal Government stole $2.2 billion from Shell Oil.

Shell has absolutely no reason to tolerate this sort of thing. I wouldn’t. Neither would you. That $2.2 billion will be priced back into their products and they will refuse to engage in further drilling activity where this can happen again.

Rae on April 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Most Transparent Administration Evah!

Transparently working to shut down our access to energy, and to criple the economy in a myriad of ways. Atlas is shrugging.

Here in West Texas and SE New Mexico, they are using the Endangered Species Act, that perennial favorite of environmentalists when they can’t find any other reason to shut things down. The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is being pushed to be added to the endangered list, and that will cause oil production, ranching and farming to come to a halt over a very large area down here. Texas has fared too well during the bad economy, it must be punished.

New Mexico is bringing this on themselves, and when the 1/3rd of their states revenues that come from this area are shut off, there will be some gnashing of teeth and raising of taxes in Santa Fe.

iurockhead on April 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Somebody should go to the National Archive, find the receipt for purchasing Alaske, go to Putin and say… “Vlad, we’d like to return Alaska. We decided we aren’t going to use it after all.”

Then, we’d have another “friendly” source of foreign oil.

VastRightWingConspirator on April 26, 2011 at 10:18 AM

There is a problem with the article in that it at the very least suggests that Shell was actually drilling there. It has not even started drilling yet. Oh Shell did drill offshore in the Beaufort Sea a few decades back, but it has not drilling there recently.

Shell did obtain leases from the Federalies, which have had roadblocks put in the way for them to actually explore these leases over and over again.

Kermit on April 26, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Kermit on April 26, 2011 at 11:13 AM

With respect, it’s your information that’s misleading.

Shell has been drilling — “drilling” — in the Beaufort Sea for years, as have other oil/gas companies. The Beaufort Sea has had rigs operating in it since the 1970s.

There is zero that is new about either the drilling or the icebreaker support, nor is there anything new about the area. The Beaufort Sea oil/gas deposits under US control are right offshore in an area that starts at Kaktovik and expands to the west.

Shell was using icebreakers for drilling support in 2007 in the Beaufort Sea, when the icebreakers were there to do the following:

Shell will utilize the vessels for towing oil rigs, anchoring and maintenance work. In addition, the vessels will safeguard the rigs during drilling operations. The vessels will manage ice by keeping the ice floes that break off from the North Pole during summer away from the oil rigs to ensure safe operations.

The link is in the penultimate paragraph at “press release.”

Environmental lawsuits shut down the 2007 operations, and Shell has resubmitted drilling plans several times since then, the latest iteration resulting in the latest EPA decision against a permit for the icebreaker support.

But it is emphatically NOT valid to imply that the proposed area is an unexploited one in which the oil industry is not prepared to pump oil quickly. The Beaufort Sea oil deposits have been extensively profiled, explored, and exploited for decades. It’s not new territory. It is accurate to characterize what has happened in this case as “drilling being shut down,” just as it is accurate to apply that characterization to the Gulf of Mexico, for either ongoing pumping or setting up new rigs in operation.

J.E. Dyer on April 26, 2011 at 12:19 PM

The story at Watts Up With That implies that Shell didn’t include the emissions from the icebreaker in their environmental impact report, or something like that, so the EPA said the survey was incomplete.

There’s also some BS about some computer simulation of their operation by an NGO showing it will “increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards”.

Evidence? Who needs evidence. We’ve got a computer simulation that our bought-and-paid-for starving graduate student put together. No, you can’t look at our simulation, what are you trying to imply?

Socratease on April 27, 2011 at 5:43 PM