Today conservation groups sent a letter to Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director James Watson asking for a public comment period and review of ConocoPhillips’ Chukchi Oil Spill Response Plan and accompanying environmental documentation. In 2012, BSEE distributed Shell Oil’s Chukchi and Beaufort Oil Spill Response Plans to the public and reviewed public comments. BSEE received ConocoPhillips’ spill plan back in February 2012, but has not made the plan available for public review and has yet to make clear if the agency will take public comment. The following are excerpts from the letter:
“We request that BSEE make ConocoPhillips, and all other proposed Arctic oil spill response plans and accompanying National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act consultation documents available for public review and comment."
"Since at least February 2012 the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has been reviewing ConocoPhillips’ Chukchi Sea Oil Spill Response Plan but has not made the plan available for public review and has yet to make clear whether it will provide for public comment on the plan. We request that you provide at least 90 days for, and encourage, public comment before BSEE makes its decision on this important plan, due to the highly sensitive nature of the environment, the remoteness from infrastructure, and the frontier nature of Arctic Ocean drilling."
"Recently, the Department of the Interior released its 60-day ‘Review of Shell’s 2012 Alaska Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration Program.’ This review recognized the ‘unique and challenging conditions associated with offshore oil and gas exploration on the Alaskan OCS’ and characterized ‘transparency and opportunity for public input’ as ‘important’ and ‘an area of success from the 2012 experience that should be carried forward and improved upon in the future.’"
"Moreover, the post-BP tragedy’s National Oil Spill Commission specifically recommended that oil spill response ‘[p]lans should … be made available for a public comment period prior to final approval[.]’"
"We hope that BSEE will follow these explicit recommendations.”