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Offshore oil industry says Arctic drilling will be safe with 2015 technology




ShellNo flotilla participants float near the Polar Pioneer oil drilling rig during demonstrations against Royal Dutch Shell on May 16, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Demonstrators began three days of protests both on land and on Puget Sound over the presence of the first of two Royal Dutch Shell oil rigs in the Port of Seattle
ShellNo flotilla participants float near the Polar Pioneer oil drilling rig during demonstrations against Royal Dutch Shell on May 16, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Demonstrators began three days of protests both on land and on Puget Sound over the presence of the first of two Royal Dutch Shell oil rigs in the Port of Seattle
David Ryder/Getty Images

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When the federal government yesterday approved oil-drilling operations off the coast of Alaska's northwest shores by Royal Dutch Shell, two disasters dogged the news: the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill.

Since those massive spills, the oil industry says it has made huge strides in safety - including in subsea well control and oil spill response. Still, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club say if a spill got out of hand in Arctic seas, it could harm threatened whales, ice seals, walrus and other species.

Why did the federal government decide to green light the permits? How has technology changed to prevent blowouts of deep-sea oil wells? Will the Senate approve the permitting for Shell? What are your thoughts about the risks of offshore drilling compared to other fossil fuel production?

Guests:

Dan Kish, Senior Vice President of Policy, Institute for Energy Research - a think tank that advocates for free-market energy policy

Michael Brune, Executive Director, The Sierra Club - an advocacy organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and the environment