New strategy needed to cope with Arctic environmental changes - U.S. report

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Fri Apr 5, 2013 10:39am IST

A ringed seal pup peeks out from its protective snow cave near Kotzebue, Alaska in this handout photo dated May 1, 2011. REUTERS/Michael Cameron/NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center/Files

A ringed seal pup peeks out from its protective snow cave near Kotzebue, Alaska in this handout photo dated May 1, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Cameron/NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - With the warming U.S. Arctic region poised for greater oil and mining development, the White House needs to develop a national strategy that can take environmental decisions on a larger scale, a report issued Thursday concluded.

The study recommends greater coordination between federal, state and local agencies to better manage resources in Alaska, said the U.S. Department of Interior's Alaska Interagency Working Group in its report that was presented to President Barack Obama.

"It is imperative that we reduce redundancies and streamline federal efforts as we safely and responsibly explore and develop Alaska's vast resources while preserving the region's rich ecosystems," David Hayes, the deputy interior secretary and working group chairman said in a statement.

The study's release follows a trouble-plagued offshore Arctic drilling season conducted by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), and comes as several other energy, mining and shipping companies are poised to do business in the region.

The report urged regulators to work jointly on environmental reviews of projects instead of considering each proposal in isolation, and to identify special ecological and cultural areas that might need protection from an expected rush of companies seeking to extract oil, minerals and other Arctic resources.

Such an intensive approach to environmental management is needed because of profound changes as the Arctic warms and atmospheric carbon dioxide accumulates in the Arctic Ocean, making the frigid waters more acidic and imperiling shellfish and other marine life.

Both environmentalists and oil-industry representatives welcomed the report.

"As far as I know, no one's ever tried to pull all of this together in one place before," said Michael LeVine, Pacific senior counsel for the environmental group Oceana.

However, it is unclear whether management changes will follow, LeVine said. "There's a lot of recommendations in here, none of which have any requirement that they be implemented," he said.

Kara Moriarty, executive director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said the report could help pave the way for responsible future development.

"It's no secret - there is a microscope on the Arctic," she said. "There is a very heightened awareness about how development in the Arctic is going to proceed."

Energy and mining companies and marine shippers submitted their own recommendations for future management of Alaska's Arctic region, much of which focused in easing impediments to development.

(Reporting by Yereth Rosen; Editing by Tim Gaynor, Mary Wisniewski and Lisa Shumaker)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ukraine Crisis

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Struggling For Food

Struggling For Food

Drought leaves up to 2.81 mln hungry in Central America - U.N.  Full Article 

EU Top Jobs

EU Top Jobs

After hard bargaining, EU set for deal on new leadership.  Full Article 

Ebola Spreads

Ebola Spreads

Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea.  Full Article 

Embarrassing Twist

Embarrassing Twist

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif distances himself from army as crisis drags on.  Full Article 

Grave Risk

Grave Risk

Britain raises its terrorism threat level over Syria, Iraq.  Full Article 

Territorial Gains

Territorial Gains

Islamist gains in Syria alarm some Assad allies.  Full Article 

Safety Checks

Safety Checks

Captain of doomed S.Korea ferry says lack of checks was customary - Yonhap.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage