The Interior Department has reportedly approved the first oil and gas production facility in the federal waters off the coast of Alaska. Apparently, this move has come at a time when the Trump administration is making efforts to expand the production of fossil fuels.
Hilcorp, a Texas based energy company, has proposed to develop a 9-acre artificial gravel island in the Beaufort Sea, located in Arctic Ocean, which it calls the Liberty Project. This project would supposedly be located near four other artificial islands which are producing oil & gas and are controlled by the state.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stated that developing the resources responsibly, especially in Alaska, would allow them to use the energy diplomatically in helping their allies and keeping a check on their adversaries. This would make America stronger and more influential around the world, he further said.
According to Guy Hayes, an Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) spokesman, BOEM has issued approval for this project with conditions after evaluating the possible impacts on the environment, incorporating inputs from the public, and from the communities and tribes of the North Slope. The energy company must obtain other permissions from the local, state, and federal agencies before it moves forward with construction, development, and production.
Further from the reports, the approval from BOEM came after the Trump administration proposed a huge offshore oil and gas drilling plan in January, for allowing it in almost all federal waters, which include sales off the Alaska coast.
This plan has been subject to bipartisan criticism, with most of the coastal governors opposed to allowing drilling off their shores, particularly in new parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, fearing spills and harm to tourism. But the local politicians support drilling off the coast of Alaska to support the state’s budget, as Alaska majorly depends on oil and gas for revenue.