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September 17, 2015

IER Submits FOIA Requests For Records on Arctic Exploration

September 17, 2015
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WASHINGTON — Today, the Institute for Energy Research submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to several entities within the Department of the Interior (DOI) concerning records related to decision-making on offshore energy exploration in the U.S. Arctic in 2015. Despite the long history of safe drilling in Alaska’s offshore area, in recent years federal agencies have stymied offshore energy exploration.

These actions compromise America’s ability to assert leadership in the Arctic and to secure our vast domestic energy supplies for the benefit of all Americans. Energy exploration in the U.S. Arctic has increasingly been subjected to time-consuming and costly delays, as well as a shifting and inconsistent regulatory ground—both of which have discouraged investment in one of the our nation’s most energy-rich regions.

For example, the final permits required for drilling were not issued until drilling rigs had departed for the final leg of their journey to the drill site. Even more problematic is that one of the final DOI authorizations necessary for exploration in 2015 was not issued until late June and, when it came, it included an unjustified requirement that directly conflicted with another plan that the DOI had approved only a month prior. This requirement significantly limited the extent of exploration that can occur in the U.S. Arctic offshore in 2015.

“Whether it was mere incompetence or politicization of a complex permitting process due to the influence of special interest groups, there is too much at stake for either to be tolerated,” said IER President Thomas Pyle.

“Americans expect our government to make efficient use of taxpayer dollars and make decisions in an unbiased manner based on facts and science. Disclosure of the records being sought in these FOIA requests will help the public better understand the reasoning and potential influences behind these inexplicable federal regulatory actions and help ensure that these missteps are corrected in the future.”

The IER FOIA requests seek:

  • All records/documents relating to communications between certain special interest groups and certain Interior Department entities from January 1, 2014 to September 17, 2015 regarding a Fish and Wildlife Letter of Authorization related to Shell’s 2015 Chukchi exploration drilling program;
  • All records/documents relating to communications between certain special interest groups and certain Interior Department entities from January 1, 2014 to September 17, 2015 regarding Shell’s 2015 Applications for Permit to Drill and Modify to conduct exploratory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea;
  • All records/documents relating to communications between certain special interest groups and certain Interior Department entities from January 1, 2014 to September 17, 2015 regarding Shell’s Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193 Revised Exploration Plan Revision 2; and
  • All records/documents relating to communications both within and among DOI entities and between certain DOI entities and White House officials and staff regarding the Letter of Authorization, Applications for Permit to Drill and Modify, and Revised Exploration Plan Revision 2 from January 1, 2014 to September 17, 2015.

Click here to read the full FOIA requests.

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