Palin Praises Obama Administration for Approving Oil Drilling Off Alaska Coast

Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page late Monday to "commend" Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for his decision to open conditionally three wells for drilling in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska.

"It's a decision that's been a long time coming. The area north of the Arctic Circle contains some of the world's richest oil and gas reserves," wrote the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate. "As an Alaskan and an American, I am very grateful for the decision today because it is a step in the right direction toward prosperity for Alaska and energy independence and security for America."

The Department of the Interior on Monday announced that it had approved Shell Gulf of Mexico's plan to drill the three "exploratory, information-gathering" wells. The plan allows the company to drill during the July-October season.

"Drill, Baby, Drill" became a rallying cry of the GOP National Convention last September as Republicans pushed for exploration of American fossil fuels. But Salazar made clear that Shell would be subject to "close monitoring" to make sure it drills in a "safe and environmentally responsible manner."

"A key component of reducing our country's dependence on foreign oil is the environmentally responsible exploration and development of America's renewable and conventional resources," Salazar said.

Palin noted that the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated the area beyond Alaska north of the Arctic circle contains 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 83 billion barrels of oil.