US Government Allows Shell to Drill in Arctic

“The Obama administration continues its policy of selling off the environment and through that, Alaska Native peoples, to the highest bidder. We know that there’s no way to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic. The Department of Interior knows it too. Approving Shell’s exploration plan for the Beaufort Sea is a completely irrational decision, driven by industry greed and politicians rather than science and the health of people and the environment,” said Carole Holley, Alaska program co-director with Pacific Environment.

“Today’s announcement is proof that all of Secretary Salazar’s promises of reform after the Deepwater Horizon amount to nothing. This Administration is as willing as ever to rubber stamp dangerous drilling plans in the Arctic Ocean,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“We’ve already watched oil spreading over Prince William Sound. Last summer we watched it gush into the Gulf of Mexico. If we fail to act on the lessons learned from these tragedies, we could soon find ourselves in Alaska’s Arctic, watching another disaster unfold,” said Andrew Hartsig, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Arctic Program. “A comprehensive Arctic research program is needed to promote informed decision-making on oil and gas activities and to measure and monitor impacts on Arctic ecological resources. The necessary work can begin now, and it can be conducted within a reasonable period of time. With that information in hand, we can make no-regrets choices for our Arctic seas.”

“Everyone from the Coast Guard to local community leaders has said they are ill-equipped and unable to properly respond to an oil spill in the Arctic, yet now we are letting Shell move forward with drilling in severe weather conditions in America’s most pristine and unique frontier,” said Chuck Clusen, director of Alaska projects for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is either the height of irresponsibility or ignorance, but either way it should be stopped.”

“Because Congress and the Obama Administration have not implemented many significant post-BP spill reforms, the public is not confident that everything is being done that can be done to prevent major spills in the Arctic. Shell’s word that the company is trying to prevent spills is not good enough,” said Lois Epstein, an engineer and Arctic Program Director at The Wilderness Society.

“This decision is bad for Arctic wildlife, such as polar bears and bowhead whales, and bad for the people of the Arctic who rely on these animals for their way of life. Instead of moving forward with drilling in the amazing oceans and wild lands of America’s last frontier, we should be investing in ways to make our cars and trucks go further on a tank of gas and move beyond oil,” said Dan Ritzman, Alaska Program Director for the Sierra Club’s Resilient Habitats campaign.

“REDOIL, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, is in opposition to the exploration activities of Shell Oil which have been approved by BOEMRE. We take this position as a means to protect indigenous culture. The Inupiat culture has thrived for thousands of years. We have a close relationship with the bowhead whales and marine life of our region. Climate change is happening. The proposed activities, which lack a credible plan to deal with oil spills, if allowed, can have a devastating effect on our already stressed ecosystem. Our ecosystem and culture should not be put in jeopardy for the profit of a foreign oil giant,” said Robert Thompson, Inupiat resident of Kaktovik and the Chairman of REDOIL.

“It is time for the Obama administration to commit to the truth about an Arctic oil spill,” Oceana Pacific Senior Director, Susan Murray said. “The American public should no longer be given misinformation, if a spill will be impossible to clean up in the Arctic that needs to be stated.”

“Just this June, the USGS reported gaping holes in our understanding of the Arctic Ocean, yet the administration ignores these realities by declaring that offshore drilling would have no significant impact on this fragile marine environment,” said Sierra Weaver, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “By putting Shell one step closer to dangerously risky drilling, the administration puts the wildlife and people that depend on the fragile Arctic ecosystem on thin ice.”

“Shell’s oil drilling risks major spills that could devastate nearby coasts, including our nation’s treasured Arctic National Wildlife Refuge roughly a dozen miles away,” said Pamela A. Miller, Arctic Program Director, Northern Alaska Environmental Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. “The toxic pollution and noisy disturbance from the exploration wells threaten refuge resources dependent upon marine and nearshore estuary waters, as well as surrounding coastal habitats so vital to polar bears, migratory birds, caribou, Alaska Native subsistence, and recreation. Our preeminent wilderness refuge deserves better care than the offshore agency has shown.”

“Shell’s oil spill plans are full of inadequacies and falsehoods. For example, Shell assumes they can clean up 95 percent of the oil spilled using mechanical recovery, even though in the Exxon Valdez only had 8 percent of the oil was recovered, in Deepwater Horizon, it was 3 percent,” said Leah Donahey, Western Arctic and Oceans Program Director, Alaska Wilderness League. “Conditional approval of Shell’s Beaufort exploration plan with no way to clean up a spill in the Arctic’s pristine, marine environment is unconscionable.”

“Drilling for oil in the America’s pristine Arctic comes at unbearable costs, in risk, in real dollars and in terms of irreversible damage to the environment,” said Bill Eichbaum, Vice President for Marine and Arctic Policy at WWF. “We are disappointed in the Department of Interior for ignoring the findings of the President’s Oil Spill Commission report, for rewarding insufficient planning and for capitulating to corporate interests. Arctic weather conditions would actually prevent any response for a significant period of time. Did we really learn nothing from Deepwater Horizon disaster?”

Source: BOEMRE and Earthjustice (cached).
Image Source: NOAA Photo Library

3 thoughts on “US Government Allows Shell to Drill in Arctic”

  1. Why does the writer tell me the website is currently unavailable? What relevance does this have to the story, and am I supposed to be impressed that he has used “archived caches”? If the website was not available why not use a traditional journalistic method such as asking a campaign group for a comment by email or telephone? For such an important story there is unlikely to be any shortage of comment, or any reluctance to be quoted by hundreds of campaign groups around the world.

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