Shell can proceed in the Chukchi Sea; Bristol Bay and environs are still off-limits; further leasing in Arctic waters will go on hold for further study. It's not "drill, baby, drill" but it's not a lockup either.
President Obama's decision on oil and gas exploration on the nation's outer continental shelf strikes a balance between environmental protection and increased U.S. oil and gas production, all in the context of gradually diminishing our reliance on fossil fuels.
"I felt the decision, as far as Alaska's position is concerned, was reasonable," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who has sought accelerated exploration and drilling to tap more of Alaska's energy, both offshore and on.
Democratic Sen. Mark Begich struck a similar note. He said that, at least at first glance, the president aimed for balance and achieved it.
The United States needs to produce more of its own oil and gas, and Alaska should be a big part of that production. That's why the green light for Shell -- and the news that its air quality permit has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency -- is welcome. Shell still must wait for the outcome of court challenges to its exploration plans.
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