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Oil and gas companies have been focusing their efforts and devoting substantial resources to the Arctic Ocean with the goal of extracting potentially large oil and gas resources. While the Arctic Region may provide significant sources of energy for the United States, industry and Federal regulatory agencies must consider the impact of increased development on the Arctic environment which is currently experiencing deterioration of sea ice due to changing climactic conditions. This paper describes the current legal and regulatory requirements pertaining to oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean, including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In addition, the paper highlights key issues that have been arising in this area, including biological effects on marine mammals from seismic surveys and drilling operations and Alaska Native subsistence users and their concern over oil and gas impacts.
Date of Conference: 15-18 Sept. 2008