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Tue Jan 15, 2013, 04:06 AM

UK seeks to water down Arctic oil drilling proposals

Source: Guardian

UK seeks to water down Arctic oil drilling proposals

Leaked documents reveal the government has sought to change proposals that could prevent deepsea drilling operations

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 14 January 2013

The government is seeking to water down planned EU regulations on deepsea oil drilling, even while insisting to MPs that it wants "robust environmental protection" for oil drilling in the Arctic.

In leaked EU documents seen by the Guardian, the UK has sought to change proposals that could prevent oil and gas drilling operations that would leave fragile areas vulnerable. The UK is insisting that this clause be removed, because "oil spills may be effectively dispersed by wind and wave action and this is in itself one form of effective response".

This has outraged green campaigners, who are concerned that the "Arctic oil rush" several companies are engaged on could lead to irreparable damage to one of the Earth's last pristine wildernesses.

Ministers have also ruled out any moratorium on oil drilling in the Arctic, despite calls for such a move by an influential committee of MPs, and despite the grounding of Shell's Kulluk drilling rig off Alaska on the last day of 2012. That incident, though it did not result in a dangerous oil spill, heightened safety fears over offshore drilling in far northern seas, where any response to a serious spill would be difficult or even impossible.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/15/uk-arctic-oil-drilling-proposals

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