The federal government has given Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Monday that exploratory drilling can go ahead after the oil giant brought in a required piece of equipment to stop a possible well blowout in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE') Sea.
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The agency in July gave Shell permission to drill only the top sections of two wells because key safety equipment hadn't arrived.
It arrived Aug. 11, so Shell is free to drill into oil-bearing rock for the first time since 1991.
Environmental groups oppose drilling, saying industrial activity will hurt wildlife and companies haven't shown they can clean up a spill in ice-choked water.