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How should Arctic offshore drilling be regulated?

October 17, 2013

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

Getting oil from the ground to your car isn’t an easy undertaking, especially if a company is planning on extracting it from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. The bitter cold, crushing waves, thick sea ice, devastating icebergs and remoteness are all challenges that oil companies must overcome.

A study by the Pew Charitable Trusts outlines the challenges when companies try to extract oil from the top of the world, and calls on federal regulators to impose baseline standards on companies before they can drill in the Arctic Ocean.

“Pew is not opposed to offshore drilling, but a balance must be achieved between responsible energy development and protection of the environment… In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout, the United States and other Arctic countries began to examine whether regulatory standards were sufficient to prevent a similar disaster in the Arctic,” the study says. Its recommendations include:
  • Vessels, drilling rigs, and facilities should be built to withstand maximum ice forces and sea states that may be encountered.
  • Equipment needed to control a spill, such as relief rigs and well-control containment systems, should be designed for and located in Alaska’s Arctic so they can be readily deployed.
  • Spill response equipment should be located in Alaska’s Arctic and be sufficiently robust to remove oil caught in ice-infested waters and trapped under ice.

The Interior Department, an executive branch agency that oversees the management of U.S. natural resources, is drafting standards that oil and gas companies must comply with to conduct offshore drilling north of Alaska. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has said regulators will release the standards by the end of the year and open the Arctic Ocean to drilling in 2015.

Currently, regulations make no distinction in dealing with the special challenges that the Arctic presents. Most offshore oil equipment is designed for temperate conditions like in the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department’s plan to release new regulations suggests that it will acknowledge the drastic differences in conditions between the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

As an executive agency, the Interior Department does not need congressional approval of new regulations, although Congress does have the power to defund or to eliminate an executive department through legislation.

Oil companies, for the most part, are against regulation. They cite the voluntary standards that Shell Oil implemented after its inaugural Arctic drilling season in 2012 faced significant challenges and problems, including small leaks and a drilling ship catching fire.

Advocates for Arctic drilling argue that regulation will only slow exploration and extraction and that the industry, not the government, should draft safety regulations sine they know the environment, the logistics, and the challenges.

What do you think?

Who should be responsible for writing regulations for Arctic drilling? Who should the Interior Department consult when drafting regulations? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
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Comments
11/13/2014
Stroudsburg, PA
Joel
Mr Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I think the Interior Department should be responsible for oil drilling regulations and think they should consult both environmental scientists and the heads of oil companys. This is so the regulations can be both economically and environmentally friendly and so a compromise between drillers and environmentalists can be form. Even though there are several problems present, the Interior department has acknowledged the differences between gulf and arctic drilling and plans to make new regulations that are beneficial to gulf drillers. Although many might still oppose regulations by the Interior Department because they make drilling more difficult, I feel they are essential for environmental protection.

11/15/2013
Irving/Texas
Leanna
Bradley/Nimitz
The oil companies should be able to write their own regulations for drilling. They know how it works and shouldn't have to be looked over like a small child doing a task. They are aware of what they're doing. The Interior Department needs to consult with the oil companies and make compromises. The government does not need to be as involved as they're trying to be. The oil companies can control themselves and give themselves their own regulations.

11/15/2013
Irving/TX
Annabel
Bradley/Nimitz
In all honesty, we all know that America cares more about the growth of its economy than the protection of its environment. Despite the fact that I am against offshore drilling, I should concede that if it is merely to be regulated, Arctic offshore drilling should implement spill response equipment in order to actually remove oil caught in ice-infested waters. As far as who should be responsible for writing regulations, the Arctic Research Commission would be a good fit. If anyone should know the Arctic Ocean and its quirks, it would be the USARC; not necessarily the oil companies. Because oil drilling is an innovative industry that is constantly growing, it only makes sense that if left to it, oil company regulations would be too lenient.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Daniel I
Bradley/Nimitz
Drilling for oil is probably one of the biggest parts of keeping modern society going. The department of Interior should be in charge of regulations along with contributions from oil companies and environmental groups. That way Regulations are made oil companies are given room to work with and the environmental groups protect the environment.

11/14/2013
Irving/TX
Aaron
Bradley/Nimitz
It'd be easy to be against any form of Arctic drilling without knowing just how much oil means to us. It's a fact that we use it every day, and that it's one of our most important (non-renewable) resources. Yet, jumping on the other end of the spectrum doesn't grant full support either. The fact is, there's two completely different views on how this matter should be dealt with. Personally, I'd like to think that there could be a way for this to continue on, but instead, with limits. I'd like to think that oil companines could compromise with the Arctic drillers in coming up with a startegy that benefits both, but I know that's not an option. So instead, I suppose I'll just have to leave this up to the men in the big leagues.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Rudy
Bradley/Nimitz
In situations like this, the government should step in and set standards for these Oil companies. There should an objective viewpoint in control. Shell Oil’s 2012 Standards allowed many small leaks and even a ship to catch fire. Tighter government safety regulation would ensure the safety of of both oil company employees and the environment. The counter argument claims that they should not be bogged down by government safety regulation for the sake of rapid, “exploration and extraction.” These American oil company leaders need to be reminded they are still United States citizens, and when they start creating global issues because of the ferocity of their greed, the government needs to intervene.

11/14/2013
Irving, Texas
Jacob F
Bradley/Nimitz
The companies that plan on drilling for oil in the Arctic should work with the Interior Department to write out the regulations for Arctic drilling. Because the Interior Department is only used to temperate conditions, their regulations may not be adequate for the conditions that are seen in the Arctic. With the experienced writing of the Interior Department and the experience with Arctic conditions of the oil companies, if they would work together, they can make this drilling more simple and efficient.

11/14/2013
Irving/Tx
Brian J.
Bradley/Nimitz
Drilling for oil is a very important job in our world today. We survive off of oil and without it we'd suffer. We may be working towards new avenues for energy but for now we need to keep up with what we're doing. The oil companies should be somewhat included in the writing of the regulations because they'll know what's honestly best for them to succeed in their job. I'm not saying they need to do it all themselves but they should be included. Everyone from environmentalists to oil companies should be consulted with when writing these regulations to create a successful plan.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Lyndsey
Bradley/Nimitz
I think the experts about the Arctic environment should be responsible for drilling in the Arctic. They're experts in it. Therefore they understand the weather and the environment more than a normal person. The Interior Department should consult with the Arctic experts, because they are the people who can tell them what is safe for the environment and what is not safe. Also, they can tell them how to take care of the staff and anyone working on the site. I just feel like someone who is an expert on that part of the world should always be the person to go to first.

11/13/2013
Irving/TX
Reyanna
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that there should be some sort of balance between the Interior Department and the oil companies so there is a way to agree on certain regulations and rules. The main focus should be freeing the Arctic of pollution and not arguments between the two. The relationship between the two should be a fair one in that both sides have say in what goes.

11/13/2013
Irving/Texas
Hailey
Bradley/Nimitz
I don’t see a problem with arctic drilling as long as there are standards and regulations. The regulations shouldn’t be decided by the oil companies though, because they will be biased. If oil companies were allowed to come up with the precautions and rules, there would most likely be corruption because they would pick the easiest way out of things. I think the Interior Department should be in charge of coming up with the regulations, but I think they should consult with Pew Charitable Trusts on the topic. Pew Charitable Trusts have studied and examined the conditions of the arctic so they have a deeper understanding of it. In my opinion that would be the best way for the regulations to be decided.

11/13/2013
Irving/ Texas
Emily
Bradley/Nimitz
I am not entirely in agreement with Artic drilling but I do believe that the Government and Pew Charitable Trusts should take responsibility over the Artic Drilling situation. The Industry should come to an agreement with the Government because they know the land better than anyone else. The Government should hear what the Interior Department has to say after having spoke to the Pew Charitable Trusts and take their opinion into consideration. An agreement from both parts will at least have some sort of satisfaction between both the Government and the Interior Department. The Pew Charitable Trusts knows the dangers and can warn the Unites States of the possible places to drill. It would be the best way to approach the situation if both sides came to an understanding and an agreement.

11/9/2013
Irving/TX
Imbri
Bradley/Nimitz
First of all, I'm completely against Arctic drilling. I'm completely against drilling for oil at all. If we are running out of oil where we've already destroyed environments, let's STOP DRILLING FOR OIL. But if we MUST, then I believe the oil and gas companies should be completely left out of the regulation-writing process. The regulations should come from a group with expertise in Arctic conditions and how to maintain the well being of the Arctic. If the oil companies got to write them, the regulations would be the bare minimum, to avoid spending too much money on extracting the oil safely and then having to either make a smaller profit (like that would kill them), or raise the price of their oil.

11/8/2013
Irving/Texas
Jose A.
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that there should be a system between the Interior Department and the major oil companies in which they are set to agree on regulations. This would serve kind of like a checks and balance system that will keep both parties happy for the most part. Not only that, but by working together the Arctic would have less pollution, and the relationship between the Interior Department and the oil companies would be fortified.

11/8/2013
Irving/Texas
Cyndel
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that a cooperative effort between the Pew Charitable Trusts and Interior Department should be responsible for the written regulations for Arctic drilling.They should both be able to have a say in the responsibilities and the regulations because they have to work together in order to get the best for both of them.They should be able to communicate and share what they know in order to make sure that both sides are gaining without harming the environment or each other.

11/6/2013
Irving/Texas
Daniel S.
Bradley/Nimitz
Let's get right to the matter at hand, who knows the land best? Easy, The Pew Charitable Trusts. Also who would be best for setting guidelines/regulations on an unbiased basis? Well that would be The Interior Department for sure. So why argue who resolves what? Both sides should have a joint ownership when it comes to drafting new regulations involving both drilling and safety concerns. The government might not know that much of what actually occurs on sight, however, they will set safety procedures that will allow for proper use of machinery and ultimately keep the regulations up to par. The Industry itself will know what exactly must occur and can help guide the government down the right path it must pursue in order to meet certain standards. The opportunity for drilling to occur in untapped land could be a big milestone for the U.S. if we can cooperate within our own borders and get these precious resources to the surface. Much like our own difficulties trapped beneath unknown territory at the present time.

11/4/2013
Irving/TX
Matt M.
Bradley/Nimitz
The Oil companies should be able to regulate themselves without the government trying to back-seat run everything. That being said I believe that if the companies do make an error and that error causes harm to the environment, the government should be able to penalize the companies for their careless actions. So in retrospect, the Interior Department should only have to consult the oil companies since they know the situations best. I really doubt arctic drilling companies would be hesitant to make sure their safety and pollution levels weren't adequate if the government could penalize them just as long as the companies could regulate themselves.

11/4/2013
Irving/TX
Scotty C.
Bradley/Nimitz
The independent oil companies need to be the ones that set regulations for their own industry. They know how everything works inside and out, and should be the ones who oversee everything so that every little detail is regulated. The Interior Department needs to consult the oil companies and work with them, because the oil companies have the most knowledge on the subject. The government needs to stay out of this as much as possible, so that the regulations can be whats best for the oil companies and their employees.

11/3/2013
Irving/Texas
Christian S
Bradley/Nimitz
The Government and the Interior Department should be responsible because they both want something out of the Arctic drilling.And I think the people that should regulate are the people of Alaska with some help from the national government so that its not just the state taking maters into there own hands.

10/31/2013
Irving/TX
Joseph Castilleja
Bradley/Nimitz
I think both the Interior Department and the government should be responsible for writing regulations. I agree with the advocates for arctic drilling. The industry does know the environment better than the government would, but I still think the both of them could get together to come up with even better regulations. Also, if they do it this way the government will have a say in the regulations they proposed. Like I said, the Interior Department should consult with the government when drafting regulations, and also other proffessionals such as scientists who know the dangers of oil and its combustibility.

10/27/2013
Irving/TX
Brandon
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that a cooperative effort between the Pew Charitable Trusts and Interior Department should be responsible for the written regulations for Arctic drilling. Looking at the three recommendations given by the Pew Charitable Trusts, we can obviously see strong and necessary measures to keep the environment safe. As an executive branch agency, the Interior Department will provide strict regulations to ensure these measures are followed. In addition, the Interior Department should also consult drilling companies that have experience in the Arctic as they will be able to provide insightful knowledge in the given subject.

10/27/2013
Irving/Tx
Seth
Bradley/Nimitz
The Pew Charitable Trusts should be responsible for writing the regulations for arctic drilling.They have more experience than the government so they themselves should do this.They know the area and they know the dangers. The interior department is is unfamiliar with the area. The interior department should consult the pew charitable trusts if they are drafting the regulations.

10/27/2013
Irving/Texas
Roberto S
Bradley/Nimitz Hs
I feel like that Pew Charitable should take the responsibility to drill of offshore in the Arctic because they, have already have reasonable answers to the public about drilling in the arctic about having equipment to control spills that are located in Alaska's Arctic for a quick response in case spills happen. Also they would have strong facilities to withstand maximum ice and sea currents.

10/26/2013
Irving/TX
Yamilleth
Bradley/Nimitz
Pew charitable seems like the most reasonable team to come up with regulations for what would be the best for the environment and animals in the Arctic, since they understand that there are prevention that the oil companies need to take. Pew Chartible and The Interior Department should team up. Pew Chartible being the brains and coming up with regulations for the oil companies, and The Interior Department enforcing these ideas, coming up with smarter better ways to extract the oil, putting restrictions to the oil companies, and monitoring the oil companies.

10/26/2013
Irving/Texas
Monica M. M.
Bradley/Nimitz
If Pew Charitable Trusts has had past experiences on how to handle a drilling, why not set the regulations with the Interior Department? They can come together to reach an agreement that will satisfy all the individuals involved. There can not be one head involved in this. There needs to be more than one to regulate the drilling in order to hit every point. The Pew Charitable Trusts must consider the environment though since it is the source that gives most of our resources. The involvement of the two would go smoothly if they can hit every challenge. In doing so they must have the correct equipment also. It’s a major part of the regulation if they ever want to drill in the Arctic offshore. Although the two can do most of the job they can not forget about the individuals involved such as oil companies and advocates of the Arctic. It does no harm to involve them and take under consideration what they want to see be done.

10/26/2013
Irving/Tx
Alonzo
Bradley/Nimitz
In my opinion the Interior Department should have an independent choice on the regulations for the drilling of oil in Antarctica. They know the dangers there is to this job and have a better view to this subject overall than the congress and Pew Charitable for regulations. If i was to make the choice, I would of told them to go for it. I understand that it is a dangerous job and can lead to disasters, but imagine all the success that can happen in land that hasn't been drill yet.

10/25/2013
Irving/Tx
Pedro
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that Pew Charitable Trusts should be responsible for writing regulations for Arctic drilling because they are about making money AND protecting the environment. The Interior Department should consults with both Pew and the Industry's that are going to be drilling to draft the best regulations possible that would benefit both the industries and the environment. If that were to occur, I think that the Department and the industries would clash a lot if they were the only ones involve. That's why Pew would be like a mediator and keep things under control.

10/25/2013
Irving,Tx
Elizabeth C
Bradley/Nimitz
Since The Interior Department is indeed the management of U.S natural resources, they should have the role of writing the regulations of the Arctic drilling. The Interior Department should consult Pew Charitable for regulations of the Arctic drilling. Doing this would put the safety of our environment in great hands because special challenges of are put into consideration. Conditions such as, temperature, oil spills etc.

10/24/2013
Irving/Tx
Marissa
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that both the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Interior Department should both reach an agreement on regulations for the drilling of oil in the Arctic Ocean. Pew Charitable Trusts understands the dangers of the oil drilling and understands what needs to happen in order to prevent drastic disasters in the environment. The Interior Department sets the regulations, and makes sure that they are safe and practical for the oil companies to abide by. Together, both departments can make sure that the necessities for the arctic drilling are met in order to keep the environment as well as people safe.

10/24/2013
Irving, TX
Jesus G.
Bradley/Nimitz HS
I think the interior department should be the one to handle the regulations for the Arctic drilling.The reason for this is because they will be more safer and less harm of oil spills.The interior department should consult veteran engineers and how to make it more safer while still having the same speed for them to be able to make profit.

10/24/2013
Irving/Tx
Jordan B.
Bradley/Nimitz
If we do want to regulate arctic drilling then you have to get the companies involved! We can not do anything unless they give us their “consent.” Without them nothing can be done because then we would not anyone to drill the oil.

10/24/2013
Irving/Tx
Hannah W.
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that people who should regulate restrictions are the people of Alaska, because what if something bad happened and it polluted the water and killed all the fish. This would devastate the people that might rely on fishing for their source of income. The people of the Interior Department should consult with Alaska state legislature when they come up with regulations because the state legislature will be able to tell them where they can drill and extract the oil. Things such as the people of Alaska should be considered when wanting to drill in the arctic ocean.

10/24/2013
Irving/Texas
Teven
Bradley/Nimitz
The Interior Department should assume responsibility for writing regulations for Arctic drilling. They should consult petroleum engineers to enhance their knowledge of the limits of Oil Rigs, biologists to improve their understanding of the importance of minimizing ecological impact, and the oil companies that have packed their offices with lobbyists. They should make regulations strict enough to prevent oil spills. However, they should avoid inhibiting the product output of oil companies too much.

10/24/2013
Irving/TX
Sergio G.
Bradley/Nimitz
In my opinion I believe Pew Charitable Trust should take the role on deciding the regulations for Arctic drilling. My belief to this is that they seem to not only put the energy resource in hand, but as well as the safety to the environment. They seem to not only set recommendations on how to prevent oil spills, but as well as how to stop them if they happen to occur. Now on consulting with the Interior Department, I believe that would be the PCT challenge. In my view point they seem to have the most back up information to consult a meeting about drilling in the Arctic.

10/23/2013
Irving/Texas
Chadwick
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe drafting the new regulations for Arctic drilling should be a joint effort between the Interior Department and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Charitable Trusts have insights to the environment and complications faced by offshore drilling companies in the Arctic region. The Interior Department will provide regulations with no motives for shortcutting safety whereas the drilling companies who may know the environment, will most likely post minimal safety regulations that will provide cheaper, quicker oil. This being said, I do believe the Interior Department should involve the input of drilling companies who have experience in the Arctic region. Overall as long as proper safety measures and relief precautions are taken, this opportunity for drilling in relatively untapped oil may help the US in the future.

10/23/2013
Irving/Tx
Miriam
Bradley/Nimitz
Pew Charitable Trust should be the one in charge of writing regulations for Arctic drilling. Companies that are in the drilling industry will be too focus on the cost rather that safety and the environment. Pew is very interested in making sure that standards and regulations are set in order to prevent disaster. The Interior Department also shares the views of Pew Charitable Trust. They aren’t focused on how much money they are making or losing because they are not involved. If the oil companies were in charge of regulations they would find ways to increase profit and cut spending and this could be done so by taking away safety features that are considered costly.

10/23/2013
Irving/TX
Edward H.
Bradley/Nimitz
It looks like Pew Charitable Trust should be in control of writing regulations for the Arctic drilling. Pew should be in charge because they think of the safety of keeping the natural environment safe first, and then drilling. They make sure and keep in check to know and prevent any oil spills. They also have a plan to clean up the oil spills and prevent it from damaging the wild. The Interior Department should consult the Pew Charitable Trust because they know how to keep the wild safe and can keep up with oil spills and oil clean up.

10/22/2013
Irving/TX
Kristiyan
Bradley/Nimitz
Pew Charitable Trust should be responsible for writing regulations for Arctic drilling. The reason I believe this is because Pew Charitable will develop a balance for both protecting the environment and developing energy. These are both great reasons to choose Pew. PCT should be the ones that consult with Interior Department because they know the requirements to keep the environment safe, and take responsibility for hazards that may develop in the long run with the oil drilling process.

10/22/2013
Irving/Texas
Sarah M.
Bradley/Nimitz
It seems like Pew Charitable Trust would be the best candidate for deciding the regulations that need to be followed regarding Arctic drilling. They aren't against drilling, but they take the safety of the environment into consideration. Their recommendations surround the idea of taking major precautions to prevent or clean up any oil spills. The PCT should also be the group that consults with Interior Department when creating regulations. PCT knows the environment and what it takes to create a safe and equal balance between conserving the environment and extracting forms of energy. They have even done studies that could contribute to creating regulations that target all of the potential hazards when extracting oil.

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