Arctic drilling rule sent to White House

The Interior Department has sent its draft proposal on drilling safety rules for the Arctic waters off Alaska's northern coast to the White House, moving one step closer to unveiling the new standards.

The rules are expected to "promote safe, responsibly and effective drilling activities ... while also ensuring the protection of Alaska's coastal communities and the marine environment," according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website.


The rules were sent to the White House OMB on Friday for review.

In March, the director of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Brian Salerno, said the regulations for companies that hope to drill in the Arctic for oil and gas would be proposed "shortly."

Companies like Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips hope to produce in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Shell had to pull out of drilling due to mishaps while operating in the dangerous terrain, and after a court ruled against the Interior's last lease sale in the Arctic.

Environmentalists argue the region is too facile for development and that major oil spills would be difficult to contain in the unwelcoming environment.