for Biological Diversity
On February 27, Shell Oil announced today that it won’t drill for oil in the Arctic off Alaska this year. The oil giant had planned to drill several exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Several setbacks, including the grounding of its Kulluk drilling rig, failure of its oil spill response containment dome and the Coast Guard’s discovery of numerous safety violations on its Noble Discoverer drilling rig, prompted Shell to delay its plans.
“Although Shell calls this simply a ‘pause’ in its plans for Arctic drilling, we think it ought to be a permanent stop,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Drilling in the Arctic can never be made safe for polar bears, whales and ice seals or the fragile ecosystems where they live. President Obama ought to use the opportunity to rethink his support for Arctic drilling and take if off the table forever.”
More than 1 million people sent President Obama messages last year asking him to save the Arctic from drilling. Shell’s initial exploratory drilling, begun last summer, was characterized by a series of mistakes. The Center and allies and citizens have said for years that there are no adequate safety measures to protect people and wildlife in the Arctic’s extreme conditions. A spill would be nearly impossible to clean up.
“It was a mistake to let Shell in the door in the first place. We’re relieved they won’t be drilling this summer but now it’s time to push forward on a moratorium on Arctic Ocean drilling and protect this special place,” Noblin said. “It would be a legacy that would protect our climate, wildlife and the communities that depend on healthy oceans.”