Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League
Related Link: http://www.alaskawild.org
Biography provided by participant
In response to Sen. Begich’s question, “Is the U.S. prepared to face this century of change in the Arctic?” I would have to answer with a resounding no. And the fact that Sen. Begich says that the impacts of climate change “make production of oil and gas from the Arctic practical and profitable” speaks to why.
First of all, the fact that there is less sea ice in the Arctic Ocean this year does not mean that the Arctic has suddenly turned into Florida. There are still ice floes as big as apartment buildings, which can move at a rate of 40 miles per hour throughout the calendar year. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center: “The last time that scientists can say confidently that the Arctic was free of summertime ice was 125,000 years ago.” And we still lack the technology and resources to deal with this sea ice and the other environmental challenges the Arctic throws at us.
There is nothing “practical or profitable” about drilling for oil in a re
Today, the Obama administration is expected to announce a decision about a deeply flawed 2008 lease sale pushed forward by the Bush administration in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. Today, the Obama administration has the opportunity to reverse course on what appears to be a headlong rush into drilling in America’s Arctic Ocean.
The question is will the Obama administration live up to its commitment to make decisions “based on sound science and the public interest, and not on the special interests,” as pledged by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when he took office in 2009?
Because thus far - as made evident by the recent decision to approve Shell Oil’s aggressive, risky plans for exploratory drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea - the Obama administration has ignored such facts as there is not enough information about the Arctic Ocean to drill safely there and there is no proven method to clean up an oil spill in Arctic conditions (not to mention a critical lack of resources, as the Coast Guard’s highest officer said, we’re
As I read about the new flow estimates for the ongoing BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico today, I can only think about what might have been in the Arctic. And together with my colleagues and the people of the North Slope of Alaska, I breathe a huge sigh of relief that for now, one of our nation’s greatest natural treasures has been granted a repreive.
When the folks who call the Arctic home heard the news that President Obama has delayed Shell Oil’s plans for exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean until 2011 at the earliest, they cried tears of joy and relief. For so long, they have been fighting to keep Big Oil from taking its next drilling gamble in waters that the Arctic’s Inupiat people have called their “garden” for thousands of years. Yet their thoughts didn’t stray long from the people of the Gulf coast, who have already lost their garden to Big Oil.
As one Alaska Native leader who is down in the Gulf right now said in a recent email: “We saw the pelican nesting island surrounded by oiled booms, the bi
One thing the U.S. cannot afford is another disaster on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy that continues to spill crude oil into Gulf waters with no end in sight. And if Shell Oil is allowed to move forward with their plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean in less than 40 days, we could have a situation on our hands that eclipses what’s happening in the Gulf.
We have proven that we are not ready to deal with a catastrophe of that scale in an area with moderate temperatures, relatively tame seas, and lots of infrastructure, personnel and equipment on hand to respond. In the Arctic, one of the harshest and remote environments on the planet, government agencies have already said things like: “There has been little experience with under-ice or broken-ice oil spills, and there is little evidence to suggest that the capability exists currently to successfully clean up a spill of this type up in a timely manner.” (These comments came from the government’s Minerals Management Service)
Let me offer a few comparisons between the situ