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Shell-Led Arctic Push Finds U.S. Shy in Icebreakers: Energy

Royal Dutch Shell Plc has spent $4.5 billion since 2005 preparing to explore for oil off Alaska’s north coast in the Arctic. U.S. taxpayers may end up paying almost as much to supervise future operations in the region.

Shell, which may begin drilling next month, is one of at least six companies planning to extract oil, gas and minerals in the Arctic as global warming melts ice and opens new sea lanes to commerce. As the companies move in, so must the Coast Guard, to defend U.S. interests, perform sea rescues and coordinate the government’s response to any oil spills.