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March 14, 2013 | By Kim Murphy
SEATTLE - Federal regulators said Thursday they would not allow Royal Dutch Shell to resume exploratory drilling off the coast of Alaska until the company comes up with a detailed operations program and management plan for operating in the Arctic to head off the mishaps that plagued the company's debut drilling season in 2012. “Shell screwed up in 2012, and we're not going to let them screw up whenever they [resume] … unless they have these systems in place,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said after a new report found that Shell's contractors were repeatedly ill-prepared to meet the demands of operating in the harsh Arctic environment.
March 4, 2013 | Monte Morin
Loss of sea ice due to global warming could open new seasonal shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean by midcentury, sharply reducing transit times and opening a Pandora's box of safety, environmental and legal issues, according to scientists. In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Plus, researchers estimated that new shipping lanes linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are likely to open between 2040 and 2059. The lanes would not be open year-round, however, and would likely be restricted to late summer, when ice cover is lowest.
February 27, 2013 | By Kim Murphy
SEATTLE - Plagued with problems with both its drilling rigs and its oil spill containment vessel, Shell Alaska announced Wednesday that it will not conduct offshore drilling operations in the Alaska Arctic this year. The decision to “pause” Arctic drilling during the upcoming ice-free months of summer will allow the company to repair and retool its troubled rigs and prepare for future operations in a program that has already cost the company nearly $5 billion. The company will continue to do offshore scientific research and conduct meetings with villagers across the North Slope in an attempt to keep the program moving and ready for resumption “at a later stage,” company spokesman Curtis Smith told the Los Angeles Times.
February 8, 2013 | By Sergei L. Loiko
You can see icebergs in the Antarctic, geysers in Yellowstone, waterfalls almost anywhere, volcanoes in the Russian Kamchatka. You can see whales and puffins in plenty of places, including the U.S. But you can see all of this and more at one time in Iceland. That's where I've found seemingly endless lava fields covered by moss, red-and-black volcanic ash deserts, rugged basalt terrain broken by ice-capped mountains, glaciers, accessible waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, smoking hot springs and gurgling geothermal areas colored like the surface of Mars, blue fields of lupins and black volcano ash beaches.
January 13, 2013 | By Booth Moore
It's a chilly 56 degrees in L.A. today. So will Hollywood shiver its way down the red carpet or cover up with capes and furs? Shiver, at least judging from the strapless early arrivals. I guess you don't spend all those hours at SoulCycle to cover up. So far, I haven't been wowed by any of the gowns. Debra Messing is in a rather simple Donna Karan strapless black ruched silk organza creation, and Claire Danes is in an equally understated red carpet red halter gown by Versace. Julianne Hough's white Monique Lhuillier gown with gold, shard-like beading on the bodice has a little more spunk.
January 10, 2013 | By Kim Murphy
SEATTLE - Adding to the troubles plaguing Shell Alaska and its drilling program in the Arctic, the Environmental Protection Agency announced late Thursday that it had issued air pollution citations to both of the company's Arctic drilling rigs for “multiple permit violations” during the 2012 drilling season. In a brief notice, the federal agency said the company could be subject to fines or other measures as a result of the violations. EPA officials said the problems were discovered during an inspection of the Noble Discoverer drilling rig and because Shell reported that it had exceeded nitrogen oxide emissions limits on both its drilling rigs during operations last summer.
January 8, 2013 | By Kim Murphy
After a series of problems plagued the debut of offshore oil drilling in the U.S. Arctic, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Tuesday ordered a high-level, expedited review of oil operations in Alaskan waters aimed at achieving “safe and responsible exploration for energy resources in the Arctic.” The review, scheduled to be completed over the next 60 days before  a new round of drilling in the summer, could prompt additional regulatory examination of...
January 3, 2013
There's at least a tiny bit of good news in the grounding of an oil rig in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska: As of midday Wednesday, the Kulluk, which ran aground near Kodiak Island, didn't appear to be leaking fuel, thanks to its double hull of 3-inch-thick steel. We've learned some things about oil and safety since the Exxon Valdez. But the overwhelming lesson of the Kulluk, which broke free of boats trying to tow it to Seattle after its first season in the Beaufort Sea, is that for all the precautions taken by Royal Dutch Shell, neither the company's executives nor federal regulators were fully prepared for the hazardous conditions in the Arctic.
December 28, 2012 | By Kenneth R. Weiss
First came the polar bear. Now, the federal government has added two other marine mammals to the list of creatures threatened with extinction because of vanishing sea ice in a warming Arctic. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has officially listed bearded seal and the ringed seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The reason is not inadequate supplies of fish and other food for these seals, or excessive hunting by humans. It's the loss of their sea ice habitat.
December 27, 2012 | By Kim Murphy
SEATTLE -- A drilling rig that launched landmark exploratory oil operations in the Chukchi Sea Arctic this summer has been cited by the U.S. Coast Guard for serious “discrepancies” in its safety and pollution discharge equipment, the latest in a series of vessel problems that have plagued Royal Dutch Shell's foray into the Alaskan Arctic. The Noble Corp., owner of the 47-year-old Discoverer, disclosed Thursday it discovered additional deficiencies in its own inspections, including the possibility of unauthorized collected water discharges outside the allowable period for drilling operations.
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