Jacob D. Unger


Since 2008, major oil and gas operators have invested billions attempting to drill Arctic Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf. However, offshore drilling in the extreme Arctic is fraught with infrastructural, technological and environmental challenges that could result in enormous damages if an accident ever occurred. While offshore drilling operations would significantly benefit both the state of Alaska and the United States, it is imperative that the United States' offshore regulatory regime adequately protects the Arctic Alaskan environment and innocent third parties. This Note examines the shortcomings of the United States' current offshore drilling regulatory regime and proposes a four-part scheme that properly incentivizes operators to drill safely and adequately compensates damaged parties. The United States should revise its regulatory regime by: (1) significantly increasing the liability cap; (2) increasing an operator's financial responsibility requirement in the form of mandatory third-party insurance; (3) establishing a risk-based premium fund; and (4) creating a supplementary fund from firms that extract hydrocarbons in excess of a specific threshold level.

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