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Oil Drilling Approved in Arctic Waters

Oil Drilling Approved in Arctic Waters

The U.S. federal government has given permission for Shell Oil to begin drilling in the Beaufort Sea, which is north of Alaska. Neither the government, nor Shell Oil have adequate means of responding to an oil spill there, says Defenders of Wildlife. Without proper containment and rapid clean-up, an oil spill would likely be an ecological disaster. The planned drilling activity is right in the migration path of endangered bowhead whales which live in these icy waters. It could prevent them from reaching a feeding and resting area they have been using for some time. Disruption of their normal behavior could cause them to go off their normal breeding schedule. Additionally the noise of drilling and ice breaking could disrupt their normal feeding and resting, which might harm mothers and young calves.

“Proceeding with oil and gas drilling at this time is simple and plain lunacy. America’s Arctic is our last frontier, and this magnificent ecosystem supports a vast array of marine mammals: whales, polar bears, walrus, ice seals” said Chuck Clusen, an employee at the National Resources Defense Council. (Source: Bloomberg)

A recent report says there are still close ties between the oil industry and the U.S. government, “These new instances indicate that BOEMRE staff are connected to individuals and oil companies, which raises concerns about lax oversight and the integrity of the agency.” (Source: Trib.com)

Bowheads are named for their large skulls, which are used to break through ice. They typically can break through eight-inch-thick slabs, and once broke through 23 inches. They are about 50 to 60 feet long and can weigh up to 75 tons. Even at that size they can jump completely out of the water. Data about their lifespans is not abundant, but there is some indication they could live to the age of 100 years.

Before commercial exploitation, an estimate of their population was 50,000, but due to over-hunting, by 1920 they decreased to about 3,000. Now the population is estimated at 7,000 to 10,000. Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort is the largest bowhead community with over 70 percent of the whole species. Fortunately this population is believed to be increasing slightly each year.

The Beaufort Sea is relatively undeveloped, and one of the more pristine areas left on Earth. It also is home to a large population of beluga whales. Polar cod, arctic char, narwhal, seals, polar bears, and walrus also live there.

Shell Oil is the U.S. subsidiary of Europe’s largest oil company. Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, is back in the Gulf of Mexico working on more drilling. It seems unlikely huge, foreign oil companies have the same concern for America’s environment as we Americans do, and therefore the federal government’s too friendly relationship with them goes against the interests both of the people and the wildlife that live here.

Image Credit: Dave Rugh, NOAA

Related Links
Japanese Whaling Season Halted by Activists
Whales Help Measure Global Warming
10 Surprising Ways to Restore Our Oceans

Read more: Do Good, Environment, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, News & Issues, Wildlife,

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119 comments

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3:19PM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

DEATH of the OCEAN

5:49PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

omg. IM DISGUSTED ,SADDENED,SICKENED,APPAULED , WITH THIS , THAT THEY ARE GONNA GO AHEAD AND DRILL IN THIS PRECIOUS SERENE ,BEAUTIFUL PLACE, WHICH IS HOME TO ALL ANIMALS, ON LAND OR SEA. WEEL WE HAVE ARSEHOLES TO THANK FOR THIS, ARSEHOLES THAT DONT LISTEN TO 'THEIR' PUBLIC, 'THEIR' PEOPLE, COS THEY JUST DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO WITH NO COMPASSION FOR ANYBODY OR ANY ANIMALS. THEY EFFING GREEDY FOR MONEY AND POWER AND THEY DONT CARE WHAT GETS IN THERE WAY. THEY DONT CARE ABOUT THE WORLD AND THE ANIMALS, JUST FOR THEMSELVES , NO 1. AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. THEY DONT CARE ABOUT THE FUTURE, OR THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN AND GREAT GRANDCHILDREN, I THINK MAN WILL END THE WORLD BY WHAT HE IS DOING ITS TRUE. I PITY AND FEEL SO SO SORRY FOR ALL THEM POOR ANIMALS THAT DONT HAVE ACLUE WHAT VILE, HORRIBLE CRUEL, INHUMANE IS DOING. I HATE MAN.

1:00PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

The answer to these problems is simple. Hold those execs at Shell and the bureaucrats and politicians who approved the drilling responsible - with their lives.

2:36PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

"do not corrupt the earth..." (Quran 7:56)

11:54AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Only WE can stop the devastation!! BOYCOTT SHELL AND ALL OIL COMPANIES!! PROTEST!! Sign PETITIONS!! Our government will NEVER give up the filthy dollars that these companies funnel to them. They are far too CORRUPT! The MURDER and DESTRUCTION these GREEDY jerks cause is irreparable!

6:19AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Why is the human race so stupid and heartless?

10:53AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Environmentalists/scientists: We have to fight global warming!

The Governments/etc: What the heck is global warming? There is no such thing, it sounds too weird.

Environmentalists/scientists: Yes there is, for example: look at the melting ice caps in the Arctic. They are melting largely because of fossil fuel emissions, which...

The Governments/etc: Hold on! The Arctic ice caps are melting? OMG that’s... perfect! Let's go drill for some more oil.

Environmentalists/scientists: But... oil and other fossil fuels are much to blame for global warming. Why drill for more oil at a place where you wouldn't even be able to drill for oil if it wasn't for the fact that the ice caps are melting BECAUSE of global warming? We must start reducing our dependency on fossil fuels now and...

The Governments/etc: Sorry, did you say something? I can't hear you over the sound of money cashing in.

Environmentalists/scientists: But...

The Governments/etc: Not listening... not listening...

12:24PM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Kathy W. you are so right. I feel exactly the same. Why should they drill in the ARTIC? Who gives them the right?.. Them poor animals, it will affect them all terribly. It will melt everything and disturb the Eco system. Who knows what this will cause. Im appauled and saddend and sickened with it. There wont be a world soon and its just gonna get worse, there wont b any animals left its so EVIL and CRUEL. I HATE MAN

7:50PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

noted.

7:06AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Shameful!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Very informative, thank you.

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