Can We Risk More Oil Development in the U.S. Arctic?

The U.S. Arctic is an extremely unique and fragile environment. It’s also home to unique species such as beluga and bowhead whales, walruses, polar bears and various sea birds. In fact, this ecosystem is so fascinating and mysterious we still don’t fully understand how an increase in industrial activity — like say, from oil and gas companies — would affect it.

TAKE ACTION: Protect the U.S. Arctic Ocean from more oil and gas activity.

Yet the U.S. Department of the Interior is considering leasing more of the Arctic to the oil and gas industries, which would add to the 3.8 million acres already leased. The Department of the Interior recently initiated some positive reforms in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore drilling program, but before we can, in good conscience, allow more oil and gas activity to permeate the Arctic landscape, several steps must be taken to ensure this will be a safe and ecologically responsible process:

– We need integrated research and monitoring plans to help us understand the Arctic marine ecosystem, especially as it changes with the warming climate.

– We need to identify areas considered biologically important or necessary for subsistence and exclude them from lease consideration.

– We need technology to clean oil spilled in broken ice, which needs to be tested and proven to work in U.S. Arctic Ocean conditions.

This last requirement is especially vital because a recent spill in Norway showed us that even a small amount of oil in broken ice is extremely challenging to clean up. The fear is that, because of certain characteristics of the Arctic OCS — like its remote locations, heavy fog, seasonal darkness, subzero temperatures and rough, choppy waters — an oil spill here would be virtually impossible to clean and an already stressed ecosystem would be permanently devastated.

So far, none of these requirements to validate the responsibility of leasing more of the U.S. Arctic to oil and gas activity have been met. Until they are, we can’t let the Department of the Interior risk this precious ecosystem and habitat of Arctic wildlife.

It’s not too late to stop the irresponsible development of oil and gas activity in the Arctic. Sign the petition asking U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar not to offer any new leases to oil and gas companies in the U.S. Arctic Ocean.

Related Stories:

No Arctic Drilling For Shell in 2011!

Offshore Drilling: Is Energy Worth the Ecological Disaster of Oil Spills?

Polar Bear Swims for 9 Days Before Finding Ice


Photo courtesy of the Pew Environment Group


john hall
john hall5 years ago

some of you are talking about solar and wind , solar is great if the common person could afford it wind is good but the majority of cities will not allow you to put wind mills up. i would like to know of the ones who say no to drilling do you have solar panals on your roof , do you still drive , shop at stores ,go on vacations why dont you stop being like al gore and actually practice what your trying to preach .

Janet K.
Janet K5 years ago

To those who responded to me, I accidentally hit enter by accident and posted an incomplete thought. I am totally against drilling in the Arctic!

Tim Cheung
Tim C5 years ago


Mary Theriot
Mary Theriot5 years ago

Brian, a reality check would be in order. Who, really can affford solar power, we are fortunate we still own our homes. We's have to change roofs-there are more have-nots than there are haves. So many are living on government subsidies, they don't have gas guzzlers. Now the real reality check-do you think the Obamas would do wothout their jets, limos, the 536 congress, the Supreme court and their underlings,the 50 governors, along with the 50 Lieutenant governors, celebrities the Warren Buffets, Donald Trumps, the list goes on and on and on of people who would not, not that they cannot go solar power-these people are comfy cosy on our expense as it is. What about air conditioning in this 110 degree heat-and about the oil spill-hey I live in Louisiana-I know a lot of people were affected-how long did they do the oil thing before this happened ? It took an act of carelessness for this to happen-from the Brits-not OUR drillers. Do you think after we can no linger drill in the gulf-that the drilling will stop? No, the Cubans, Mexico, and other countries will get a hold of our drilling space, yes the Gulf of Mexico. I'm looking into the bigger picture-people will go on drilling in the gulf long after the US stops-and we then will have NO control over the clean up , or anything else that goes on there. At least, the government can issue certain guidelines-the other countries will NOT abide by the guidelines-"who cares-that's just the Louisiana swamp anyway'-attitudes will be ruling

Robert O.
Robert O5 years ago

In short, no we can't risk it. Did we learn nothing from the spill in the Gulf?

Brian F.
Brian F5 years ago

Janet K. Oil spills don't help our enviroment and drilling for oil only keeps us addicted to oil and fossil fuels which are adding carbon to our atmosphere and contributing to Global Warming.

Janet K.
Janet K5 years ago

To Pat,
Yes, wishes don't run the country

Brian F.
Brian F5 years ago

Mary T. We already have something we can depend on that won't run out like oil and pollute our enviroment. It's called solar and wind power. As the price of solar power goes down, we can put it on our homes and charge up our cars at night. Already companies like Sunrun in California are expanding nationally and offering homeowners home solar power leases with nothing down. Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, that cost $30,000 now will go down in the future as the batteries are mass produced and the technology improves. Instead of spending $30,000 on a polluting gas SUV, woudn't it be better to buy an electric non polluting Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Imev, or Ford Focus? The range on these cars is only about 100 miles, but that is enough for 80% of the people who drive.

Mary Theriot
Mary Theriot5 years ago

I agree with you Pat-I think we should go to alternative fuel---WHEN--they find something we can depend on. In the meantime, you people who gripes about oil and gas--how are you going to run your SUV, Lexus, and all those luxury cars. They don't run on water, and you will not do wothout them.
Also, we need to stop giving foreign money to countries that just turns around and use it to buy weapons to use against us. Drill at home and give Americans, American jobs, so they can raise their American children. Too much foreign dependency is making us cripples, POOR cripples at that.

Pat Onato
Pat Onato5 years ago

Until there is total development of other resources, not piece meal like it is now, that can handle how we live, then the use of oil will continue. We should get our oil from our own drilling and not give money to countries that hate us and control the price we pay. Do you think in our past, the horse and buggy stopped being used when the first auto came out?? More had to be built before that happened. But people want to stop using oil and rely on some or unproven resources before they have been tested to totally take the place of oil for our country. Get a grip, wishes don't run a country.