US Misses Deadline for Offshore Drilling Study

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones), Feb. 26, 2010

The Obama administration failed to meet a deadline for submitting a court-ordered analysis of the environmental effects of offering new leases to drill in Alaskan coastal waters, the oil industry said Thursday.

A federal appeals court last year had invalidated the Interior Department's current five-year plan for offering oil and gas leases, saying that the government hadn't conducted an adequate review of the environmental impact in the Beaufort, Bering and Chukchi seas off the Alaskan coast. The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has been conducting such a review and is supposed to respond to the court.

"We are disappointed MMS has again missed a deadline to provide the court with the analysis it ordered last April," Jack Gerard, the chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement. "This will delay investment decisions, delay the production of much-needed oil and natural gas and delay the creation of much-needed jobs."

An Interior Department spokeswoman said that the federal government was working on an approach to drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf soon.

"The secretary expects to be making an announcement about a comprehensive approach on the OCS in the coming weeks," spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.

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