Royal Dutch Shell cleared a major hurdle Monday in its plans to drill off Alaska's northwest coast.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved Shell's exploration plan for the Chukchi Sea.
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However, this isn't the final step that Shell needs for Arctic drilling.
Shell still must obtain other permits from state and federal agencies, including one to drill from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and government opinions that find Shell can comply with terms and conditions of the Endangered Species Act.
Shell's exploration plan calls for two ships to drill up to six wells about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright, Alaska.
A protest is planned to begin this Saturday in Seattle as one of the vessels is planned to be moved to the Seattle port.