Obama administration sets rules for future Arctic drilling

    The Interior Department says rules issued Thursday do not authorize any Arctic offshore drilling either now or in the future, but they set minimum standards for operations if and when leasing is approved.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — With no new drilling planned in the Arctic waters off Alaska, the Obama administration is setting rules to ensure that any future energy exploration in the Arctic meets safety and environmental standards.

    The Interior Department says rules issued Thursday do not authorize any Arctic offshore drilling either now or in the future, but they set minimum standards for operations if and when leasing is approved. A five-year offshoring leasing plan that includes the Arctic is expected later this year.

    Assistant Interior Secretary Janice Schneider calls the Arctic a "highly challenging environment" and says the new regulations support a "thoughtful and balanced approach" to future oil and gas exploration.

    Royal Dutch Shell announced last year it was ending exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas after spending nearly $7 billion.

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