More research on arctic oil spills urged

Nov. 14, 2012 at 4:52 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- More research is needed to prepare for prevention and cleanup of oil spills in ice-covered waters surrounding Alaska and Canada, a U.S. federal commission says.

Oil spill experiments and field trials should be conducted, more funding should go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for arctic spill research and federal regulators should be given more time or expanded staff to review oil exploration permits, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission said.

Former Alaska Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, chairwoman of the commission, presented the report Tuesday at the third biennial United States-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum, the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reported.

Environmental groups have been against drilling off Alaska's coast, arguing oil and gas producers do not have the capability or equipment to handle a spill in frigid arctic waters.

The commission report calls upon government agencies to reveal, in their public spending plans, how much they set aside for research on oil spills in ice-covered waters.

Research on arctic spill response and prevention is needed to help decision-makers formulate informed plans about future development in the region, commission Executive Director John Farrell said.

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