Wednesday July 17, 2019

India’s scientific mission in Antarctica gets Rs 1051 crore ‘gift’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

To strengthen India’s research base in Antarctica, the government today authorised the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa to acquire a Polar Research Vehicle (PRV) at the cost of Rs 1051 crore.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved acquisition of the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) in October last year at an estimated expenditure of over Rs. 1051 crore,” Minister of State for Earth Sciences YS Chowdary said.

He said the vessel is expected to contribute to India’s scientific expeditions and to sustain research at two Indian bases in Antarctica (Maitri and Bharti) and also dovetail research initiatives in the Southern Ocean domain in the proximal regions of the Antarctic continent.

“Taking into consideration the growing need of the scientific community to initiate studies in the frontier realms of ocean sciences, and the uncertainty in the charter-hire of polar vessels and the ever-escalating chartering costs it was decided to explore the feasibility of constructing and commissioning a polar research vessel which can cater to both the scientific and logistics aspects of the polar and Southern Ocean programmes,” the minister said, and added, that the PRV will give an expansion to our scientific activities into the Arctic and Southern Ocean.

“It could also widen the thrust on Arctic research disciplines, undertaken through Indian Station Himadri, in addition to providing a suitable research platform for other ocean research programmes,” Chowdary said.

Ever since the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica began way back in 1981, India has been managing the transportation of the expedition personnel and cargo to and back from Antarctica through chartered vessels.

 

 

 

 

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Judge Overturns Trump’s Attempt to Open Vast Areas of Arctic, Atlantic to Oil and Gas Leasing

The Obama-imposed leasing prohibitions will remain in effect unless and until revoked by Congress, Gleason said in her ruling

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Chukchi Sea, between U.S. and Russia. VOA

A federal judge in Alaska has overturned U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to open vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas leasing.

The decision issued late Friday by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason leaves intact President Barack Obama’s policies putting the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea and a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast off-limits to oil leasing.

Trump’s attempt to undo Obama’s protections was unlawful and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Gleason ruled. Presidents have the power under that law to withdraw areas from the national oil and gas leasing program, as Obama did, but only Congress has the power to add areas to the leasing program, she said.

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Trump’s attempt to undo Obama’s protections was unlawful and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Gleason ruled. VOA

The Obama-imposed leasing prohibitions will remain in effect unless and until revoked by Congress, Gleason said in her ruling.

Trump’s move to put offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas back into play for oil development came in a 2017 executive order that was part of his energy dominance agenda. The order was among a series of actions that jettisoned Obama administration environmental and climate-change initiatives.

Expanded program

The Trump administration has proposed a vastly expanded offshore oil leasing program to start this year. The five-year Trump leasing program would offer two lease sales a year in Arctic waters and at least two lease sales a year in the Atlantic. The Trump plan also calls for several lease sales in remote marine areas off Alaska, like the southern Bering Sea, that are considered to hold negligible potential for oil.

Obama had pulled much of the Arctic off the auction block following a troubled offshore Arctic exploration program pursued by Royal Dutch Shell. Shell spent at least $7 billion trying to explore the Chukchi and part of the Beaufort. The company wrecked one of its drill ships in a grounding and completed only one well to depth. It abandoned the program in 2015 and relinquished its leases.

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FILE – The lagoon complex is seen in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, in this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service picture taken Aug. 24, 2010. VOA
Gleason, in a separate case, delivered another decision Friday that blocked the Trump administration’s effort to overturn an Obama-era environmental decision.
Gleason struck down a land trade intended to clear the way for a road to be built though sensitive wetlands in Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The Obama administration, after a four-year environmental impact statement process, determined that the land trade and road would cause too much harm to the refuge to be justified.

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Trump’s then-interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, broke the law when he summarily reversed the Obama policy without addressing the facts found in the previous administration’s study of the issue, Gleason ruled. (VOA)