Shell Oil announced it’s finally putting its controversial plans to drill in the Arctic on hold. Irreversible damage to endangered species, irreparable oil spills and draining the resources of native communities are just a few of the injustices Care2 members helped avoid with almost 64,000 signatures to Care2 petitions.
Commonly referred to as the “Polar Bear Seas,” the Arctic Beaufort and Chukchi Seas were in imminent danger from proposed drilling projects that had the potential to devastate Arctic ecosystems. Shell spent 4.5 billion over the span of seven years avoiding environmental lawsuits and investing in environmental protections. But safety precautions proved too difficult against the Arctic’s unpredictable environment.
Just one day into drilling plans, Shell sustained damage to its containment dome — a piece of equipment meant to contain oil in order to avoid hazardous spills. This setback, paired with persistent sea ice floes forced the company to put its drilling plans on hold.
Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune stated:
Shell’s announcement is recognition of what we’ve been saying all along–the company cannot safely drill in Arctic waters…The Polar Bear Seas, special places in the Western Arctic and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be protected, not given away to Big Oil.
This is a big victory for environmentalists–but the issue is far from over. Shell Oil is only postponing Arctic drilling plans, not ending them. A potential 400,000 barrels of oil a day and an eventual 10 billion in profits keep Shell enticed by Arctic oil.
Shell must wait until its equipment is repaired and the Arctic’s harsh winter comes to end before resuming drilling. By next summer, and before its expensive permits expire, the company hopes to finish the multi-billion dollar project it started.
Thank you to Care2 members who supported Arctic preservation — because without environmental advocates Shell Oil would not be held to the stringent safety standards that halted this invasive project. With continued support, we can keep the Polar Bear Sea from destructive drilling!
Photo Credit: istockphoto