Interior Secretary Salazar plans tour of Alaska

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is planning a three-day trip to Alaska.

Salazar is preparing to decide whether to issue final drilling permits to Shell Oil, which hopes to drill exploratory wells this summer in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

The department announcement on Salazar’s trip was mum on whether the secretary intends to make an announcement on Arctic offshore drilling in Alaska.

Shell still needs the Coast Guard to complete a review of an oil spill containment vessel before it can drill. The company also is seeking a waiver of requirements in the air permit it received from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Interior Department says Salazar on Saturday and Sunday will tour the North Slope and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

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