US to Accept Comments on Shell's Alaska Plans through Dec. 23

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)

The U.S offshore-drilling agency said on Friday that it would accept comment through Dec. 23 on Royal Dutch Shell PLC's (RDSA) plans to drill in the Beaufort sea off the coast of Alaska, giving the public a chance to comment on the controversial plan.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement said it would accept comment on the company's plans to prevent an oil spill and on its contingency plans.

It also said it would accept comment on the company's plans to contain any potential blowout, and on worst-case discharge scenarios independently calculated by government staff. Shell had asked the agency to approve a drilling permit by the end of this month so it could be assured of drilling next summer.

Environmentalists oppose the plan, saying that drilling in the Arctic presents risks that could be hard to mitigate in an area that is home to the country's polar bear population. Michael Bromwich, the head of the offshore-drilling agency, has said that regulators won't rush through a decision.

Copyright (c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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