WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) -- An interagency working group exploring potential energy issues in Alaska starting examining development prospects, the government said.
An interagency working group for Alaska started work on a scientific hub that will serve as a point of information for interested parties. A separate initiative by the group aims to develop a comprehensive approach to examining the potential development of infrastructure in the arctic region of the state.
U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, chairman of the working group, said a science-based approach to energy and other developmental issues in Alaska is a key part of White House policy.
"Getting it right in the arctic requires a transparent, disciplined and integrated approach so that we can make sound, long-term planning decisions," he said in a statement.
Critics of domestic energy policy accuse the White House of blocking parts of the continental shelf for oil and natural gas development. A 5-year Interior Department plan calls for 12 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska.
An operational fleet chartered by Shell is docked at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, as it waits for sea ice to clear. The regional conditions mean Shell needs to finish work in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas by October to avoid reforming ice sheets.