Thirty-one House Democrats ask Jewell to bar leasing in Arctic Ocean

US Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and 30 other House Democrats urged US Interior Sec. Sally Jewell to reject the second supplemental environmental impact statement for OCS Lease Sale 193 and bar oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean.

“In light of the long history of legal disputes around this lease sale and the near complete inability to respond to an oil spill in this remote and sensitive region, we believe that no leasing should proceed in the Arctic Ocean,” they said in a Dec. 17 letter to the secretary.

The federal lawmakers sent the letter as their comments on Sale 193’s second supplemental EIS before the comment period closes at midnight EST on Dec. 22.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management prepared the second SEIS after the federal district court for Alaska remanded Sale No. 193 back to the US Department of the Interior agency to address deficiencies the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found in the sale’s original 2007 final EIS in January.

BOEM also held seven public hearings in Alaska, where it accepted comments on the new document.

Huffman, who is a House Natural Resources Committee member, and the other Democrats said Shell Offshore Co., which acquired tracts in the original 2008 lease sale, “seeks weaker regulations and authorization to return to the Chukchi Sea with a larger, noisier, and more polluting drilling program... despite the major flaws of its 2012 drilling program and unanswered questions about how it has addressed those failures.

“Your decision on Lease Sale 193 will set a precedent for our actions on drilling, climate change, and protection of the Arctic region,” they told Jewell in their letter.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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