President Obama, Are We Really Ready To Drill Here? (VIDEO)


NOTE: This is a guest post from Marilyn Heiman, Director of the U.S. Arctic Program at the Pew Environment Group.

In the next 30 days, the Obama administration will decide on an oil industry request to drill new wells in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea. If approved, these would be the first exploration wells drilled in America’s extreme, remote and fragile Arctic Ocean since the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled almost 5 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. It is also the first in a series of critical decisions the administration is expected to make in coming months on whether to expand Arctic offshore drilling even further.

Take Action! Please tell the Obama administration that to allow drilling now would put this extraordinary ecosystem—and vibrant communities that have practiced a traditional way of life for thousands of years—at risk.

America’s Arctic Ocean is a national treasure. It is central to the diet and culture of indigenous communities who have practiced a subsistence way of life for thousands of years. Its ice-covered waters support bowhead whales, Pacific walruses, polar bears and other marine mammals found nowhere else in the nation. Its brief summers draw millions of migratory birds to feed and breed.

Even a moderate oil spill could devastate fragile food webs and put this extraordinary ecosystem at risk.

Drilling for oil is a dangerous enterprise even in temperate climates, as last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster showed. Worldwide, a major well blowout has occurred almost every year since the mid-1970s due to human error or aging infrastructure, according to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Make no mistake, accidents continue to happen:

  • In June of this year, a drilling rig off the shore of northeastern China was reported to have been spewing oil for weeks without notifying fishermen, local residents or environmental groups. The oil spread over 320 square miles.
  • Leaks from oil drilling platforms in the North Sea occurred at the rate of one a week in 2009 and 2010, according to documents obtained by the (U.K.) Guardian. The Guardian story pointed out that the largely unpublicized spills undermined the British government’s credibility in supporting oil industry plans to expand drilling in the Arctic Ocean off the shore of Greenland.

Such incidents should make us all ask: Are we really ready to drill in the extreme and remote U.S. Arctic Ocean? And do we have adequate science to help safeguard the region’s fragile marine ecosystem?

Before allowing drilling to expand, we need proven spill response capability and a comprehensive science-based management plan that includes local knowledge and protections for ecologically important habitats. There is too much at risk to take chances in our Arctic Ocean.

Please contact the White House and ask: Are we really ready to drill in extreme Arctic conditions?


Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is a very sad story. Other animals and plants have to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

pam wilkerson
pam wilkerson6 years ago

Signed!!! Correct drill is not the answer! Leave the Oceans alone!!

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

We need to develop a SUSTAINABLE substitute for petroleum instead--like bio-diesel from algae, which is at the pilot plant stage. It should be possible to bring it to full commercial production with a five year plan if Obama can manage to bribe BIG OIL enough to get them to agree to do it.

john hall
john hall6 years ago

Since most of you are so against America drilling for it's own oil when are all of you going to stop using it .

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Drill, drill, drill is not an answer.

Chris Ray
Chris R6 years ago

Signed, thanks Alicia! Die Big Oil!

Nelson B.
Nelson Baker6 years ago

Signed. Did you ever see them turn the oil companies down?

Sylvie Bermannova

Singed. Such a proposal must not go through. It always makes me angry whenever I hear of oil companies wanting to drill in pristine nature, but they evidently suffer from an incurable greed and will not change. To them, all that matters--the hazardousness, bad environmental effects and unsustainability of oil drilling--does not matter. However, each person can do his or her bit to reverse people's tragical dependence on oil by using this natural resource, as any other, economically, if not doing without it if possible. What is not consumed will not be produced.

Karen & Edward O.
Karen and Ed O6 years ago

This debate has been going on and on and on. The oil companies are going to keep at it until they either find the right combination of legislative morons to support them or they have worn everyone down to exhaustion. We cannot let that happen.

"The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret....It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind"
-------------------------Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize address

Cat B.
CB C6 years ago

This is just like the movie "Avatar"...if big companies want what you have...they will do anything and say anything to prove they are justified in taking it. I hope all will join in and fight back to save the indigenous of Barrow and the eco system of the Alaskan waters. It's not a matter of "what to do about spills" bottom line is NOT drilling at ALL!