Trump administration approves first oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s federal waters

The Interior Department on Wednesday approved what would be the first oil and gas production facility in federal waters off the coast of Alaska, part of the Trump administration’s effort to expand where the U.S. produces fossil fuels.

Energy company Hilcorp proposes to build a nine-acre artificial gravel island in shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean, calling it the Liberty Project. The project would be near four other oil and gas producing artificial islands in waters that the state controls.

“Responsibly developing our resources, in Alaska especially, will allow us to use our energy diplomatically to aid our allies and check our adversaries,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said. “That makes America stronger and more influential around the globe.”

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued conditional approval for the project after evaluating the potential environmental impacts, and incorporating input from the public, and from North Slope communities and tribes. Hilcorp still must obtain other permits from local, state, and federal agencies before moving forward with construction, development, and production, according to Guy Hayes, a BOEM spokesman. – READ MORE

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