START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
1,375,334 people care about Politics

Are We Ready to Drill in the Arctic?

Are We Ready to Drill in the Arctic?

Note: This is a guest post from Marilyn Heiman who directs efforts to protect the U.S. Arctic Ocean for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The recent grounding of a Shell oil rig near Alaska’s Kodiak Island may have been the biggest mishap of the 2012 Arctic drilling season, but it was hardly the only one. This past year, the exploration in America’s Arctic Ocean has been characterized by one problem after another, including the near grounding of a second rig and safety and engineering concerns that prevented deployment of a promised oil spill containment barge. Taken together, these missteps raise a serious question that goes beyond any single accident or, for that matter, any single oil company: is the United States ready to drill in such a remote and risky setting?

The most publicized of the season’s many incidents was the grounding of the drill rig Kulluk on New Year’s Eve in the Gulf of Alaska as it was being towed south through a fierce storm. The towing vessel’s engines failed, and the towline broke multiple times in 25-foot seas and 50 mile-per-hour winds.

As luck would have it, the grounding occurred within reach of the largest U.S. Coast Guard station in Alaska. Coast Guard helicopters evacuated the 18 crew members, a multi-agency team of 730 people oversaw efforts to free the grounded rig, and no oil was spilled.

But imagine if this incident had happened near the actual drill sites farther north in Alaska’s remote Chukchi and Beaufort seas, where Arctic conditions can be even harsher and distance from help is much greater. Hurricane-force winds, high seas, impenetrable fog and shifting sea ice are common. The region has no major roads, ports, or airports. The Coast Guard station at Kodiak is more than 1,000 miles away, and a response would be daunting.

America’s Arctic Ocean is central to the sustenance and culture of indigenous communities that have depended on its bounty for thousands of years. Its ice-covered waters support bowhead whales, Pacific walrus, ice seals, polar bears and other marine mammals found nowhere else in the United States. Its brief summers draw millions of migratory birds to feed and breed.

To protect this national treasure, the United States needs a comprehensive, science-based management plan that preserves traditional cultural areas and ecologically important habitats. Arctic-specific safety, spill prevention and response standards must be adopted to stand up to the region’s extreme conditions. As the past season showed, those standards aren’t in place.

Read More: See a timeline exploring Arctic drilling mishaps from 2012

Related Stories:

8 Reasons Shell Why Can’t Be Trusted in the Arctic

What to Do When Someone Says “It’s Cold Today, So Climate Change Isn’t Real”

China’s Air Pollution Attacking Plants as Well as People

Read more: , , , , , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

212 comments

+ add your own
8:30AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Thank you The Pew Charitable Trusts, for Sharing this!

4:28AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

With the price of gas, we need to be drilling our own oil. Why are we sending billions of our hard earned dollars to the Middle East to people who hate us and want to kill us? We need to drill our own oil and keep all this money and jobs here in the US!

11:33PM PST on Feb 24, 2013

There must be better ways, but the big Oil companies are looking for maximum profits, nottaking into account the ALWAYS NEGATIVE impact on the environment! Where are the official bodies, like the UN? Do something useful for a change! Any infirngment on the environment in the ARCTIC should be treated as a criminal act and the perpetrators ortheir representatives in the case of companies like SHELL locked up for a min. of 10 years, plus any equipmenbt confiscated and the company should be subjected to severe fines, plus consumer boycott! These bastards are ruining the entire planet for profit and the governments don't have anything to say! Useless bunch!






abr

4:40AM PST on Feb 22, 2013

No one of us,especially the big oil companies like Shell,BP,Gazprome you named it all, have the right to drill the arctic.The arctic is just the habitat for the living species living there.That's their home not ours.
After the big pole shift many natural desasters will come to us,floods,earthquakes,vulcanic eruptions and with them many epidemics who will stop us,if we not hold on.THANKS!!

7:47PM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Wishing for alternative fuels to start being mentioned more often so people realize the big picture.

7:28AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

thanks for sharing

9:22AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF THIS GREEDY IDIOTIC HUMAN RACE. THEY SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO EVEN TRY THIS AND THE ENTIRE WORLD SHOULD BE AGAINST IT. BETWEEN THEM AND OTHERS THEY ARE DESTROYERS OF THIS PLANET AND SHOULD BE FORCED TO STOP THEIR GREED BECAUSE WHEN THIS PLANET STARTS TO ROCK AND ROLL THEIR GREED AND CORRUPTION WILL MEAN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. MAY THE OCEAN REEK HAVOC WITH THEIR DUMB STUPID HUMAN IDEAS

5:18PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

No we are not and should never be ready to drill in those beautiful waters. There has to be a better way!

8:47AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Big Oil is ready, but they're ready to do anything for a buck.

The rest of the world is ready to abandon oil, it's just that we don't have the money to do this, as Big Oil uses it's money to buy politics to stick to oil, and not to invest in research to find other solutions.

Until the last drop....

7:58AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

This needs to STOP NOW there is no such thing as SAFE DRILLING I live on the GULF COAST in FL and I know !!! Not just because of the people IT IS THE ANIMALS THAT SUFFERED THE MOST !!!!!!!!!!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

People are saying no the GMO's, which is why Monsanto and others are against _labeling_ GMO's, so we…

I always enjoy it responsibly, great advice

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.