Later this week, Shell Oil will present its ambitious oil-drilling proposal to the U.S. government, seeking permission to drill ten exploratory oil wells in Alaskan waters. The ice-clogged Arctic region is thought to have vast oil reserves.

Over the past five years, Shell has worked to convince regulators and environmentalists that it could safely manage drilling in Alaskan waters. However, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe hampered Shell's plans. Shell's proposal will be a test for President Obama. Environmental groups claim that a spill in Arctic waters could be more devastating than the Deepwater Horizon incident. On the flip side, Americans are voicing concerns over staggering pump prices (don't forget: Shell just reported profit of $6.3 billion (!) for the first quarter of 2011).

Representative Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says that soaring gas prices almost force, "the president to justify to the American people why we are not replacing Saudi Arabian oil imports with U.S.-produced oil."

Meanwhile, Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, counters by stating, "If the Obama administration approves drilling in the Arctic, it will demonstrate that they have learned nothing from the gulf spill." The Center for Biological Diversity is suing to stop Shell from drilling in Alaskan waters. What's Obama to do?

[Source: New York Times | Image: Alan Vernon – C.C. License 2.0]

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