Policy woes cloud arctic energy potential

May 8, 2013 at 7:23 AM

WASHINGTON, May 8 (UPI) -- U.S. policymakers and those in the energy industry need a clear set of rules before they can start arctic exploration campaigns, lawmakers said.

U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes testified before a U.S. Senate committee on plans for oil and natural gas exploration in the arctic. He said specific rules are needed regarding the environment so all interested parties can move forward with a sense of clarity, political news website The Hill reports.

Shell's campaign last year was plagued by equipment failures, prompting it to delay further work until 2014. ConocoPhillips said it wasn't ready because of regulatory uncertainty.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was quoted as saying regulations were needed "well in advance" of drilling plans. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said explorers couldn't make any plans without rules in place.

"Just tell us what the rules are, and then we will go from there but if we don't know what they are, then we can't plan," he said.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said it wasn't regulations but the technology needed to respond to an arctic oil spill that was a priority for the government.

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