David Astley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In spite of estimates of a 75 percent or greater chance of an ecologically disastrous spill, the U.S. government is expected this week to give the green light to Shell Oil’s plan to restart drilling for petroleum in the Arctic.

Environmentalists who have campaigned against the proposed exploration by the Anglo-Dutch group in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska are likely to protest the decision, which was made by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The Guardian reports:

Jewell will make a formal statement backing the decision as soon as Wednesday, the earliest point at which her department can rubber-stamp an approval given last month given by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The US Interior Department had been forced to replay the decision-making process after a US federal court ruled last year, in a case brought by environmental groups, that the government had made mistakes in assessing the environmental risks in the drilling programme.

However, the BOEM, an arm of Jewell’s department, has backed the drilling after going through the process again, despite revealing in its Environmental Impact Statement “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills” occurring.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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