A 56-page report published by the U.S. Interior Department says changes in arctic sea ice cover is sparking interest of offshore developers keen on tapping into unexplored reserves of oil and natural gas.
"The likelihood of increased human activity in this environmentally sensitive region has implications for managing a U.S. arctic that currently lacks much of the costly infrastructure necessary to monitor and control the impacts of such activities," the report says.
Arctic exploration was suspended by Royal Dutch Shell after equipment malfunctions and weather delays hampered the company's development plans in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
Onshore, the report said that permafrost thawing would restrict efforts to tap into known oil and natural gas deposits, "which affects fragile tundra landscapes but also depends upon the frozen ground for stability."
U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said that while the report doesn't represent any major policy initiative, policymakers need to coordinate efforts in managing the arctic.
"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 that will sustain future generations," he said in a statement.
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