Shell Alaska's plans to drill an exploratory well just offshore in the Beaufort Sea this summer is a go -- pending another safety review by federal regulators.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said offshore Arctic exploration would proceed "with utmost caution." Close scrutiny of Shell's plans and performance should be no damper on 2011 exploration plans.
Shell scaled back its original 2011 program, leaving disputed Chukchi Sea development to be resolved in court to focus on the Beaufort project. The more modest enterprise will give the company, regulators and North Slope leaders a chance to narrow their focus and make sure everything is done right.
While it's still a little tentative, the Obama administration's endorsement reflects the decision it made about Alaska development before the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April. That decision was to nix exploration near the rich salmon fishery of Bristol Bay, but to explore and develop with care in the Arctic.
That made sense then and still does.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.adn.com.