By Laura Bailey
As estimates for the Gulf Oil spill catastrophe continue to grow at horrifying rates, it is sickening that oil industry executives continue to tell the American public that oil drilling can be done safely in environmentally sensitive areas, especially as they push to open pristine places like Alaska’s Arctic waters.
One expert estimated during an Anderson Cooper interview yesterday that the spill is probably gushing 70,000 barrels per day into Gulf waters, more than ten times what British Petroleum had previously said—and the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill every four days.
Given this, Americans would be foolish not to adamantly oppose Shell Oil’s plans to open another frontier in off-shore drilling in Alaska’s pristine, ecologically wealthy, Arctic waters.
If we allow it, Shell will begin exploratory drilling in the ecologically rich Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska’s Arctic Coast in less than 50 days.
The only thing left is for them to wait for a May 28 Department of Interior decision that will either allow Shell to proceed or tell them to hold off on the drilling leases that were awarded to Shell during the Bush Administration
What’s so very wrong with these leases is that they put some astoundingly special places and animals at risk, all for an unsustainable source of energy.
The Chukchi and Beaufort seas and their coastal regions are home to roughly half of America’s polar bears, and ninety percent of the entire Pacific walrus population, as well as thousands of seals and whales, including endangered species like humpback and fin whales.
All of these magnificent animals would be exposed if an accident were to occur.
Also, drilling in Arctic waters holds vast unknowns compared to those in warm waters. To date there is no technology for cleaning up spills in icy waters. Long, cold winter nights, treacherous waters and Arctic weather conditions could complicate a clean up by making it nearly impossible or for workers to reach impacted areas quickly.
Needless to say, my colleagues at The Wilderness Society and other conservation groups have joined forces to convince the Obama Administration to pull these Arctic leases off the table before it’s too late.
Please help us by signing our petition here.
The Administration is promising to make a decision on May 28 so please do it now!