The pristine waters of America's Arctic Ocean are in danger.
These waters provide critical habitat for iconic species such as polar bears, whales, and walrus that are already suffering the effects of dramatic climate change.
Approving oil drilling is a move away from a clean energy economy and towards a deeper reliance on dirty fossil fuels while putting our Arctic Ocean and the wildlife that thrives there at unnecessary risk. Worse still, no technology currently exists to clean up oil spilled in these frozen and remote seas.
An appeals court in January ordered the Department of the Interior to reconsider its decision to offer millions of acres of oil leases in the Chukchi Sea, and Shell's attempts to drill in the Arctic Ocean in 2012 were a disaster, leading to the grounding of its drill ship, pollution fines, and multiple government investigations.
The message is clear -- drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean is a very bad idea. Urge Secretary Jewell to say no to offshore oil drilling in these remote waters.
Allowing oil drilling and development in the pristine and remote waters of America's Arctic Ocean is a risky and unnecessary venture. Government scientists agree that more data is needed to fully understand the impacts of oil drilling in this region, that an oil spill could not be effectively cleaned up in the icy and stormy Arctic, and that the lack of infrastructure in the Arctic is a significant liability in the event of a large oil spill. An oil spill in the Arctic Ocean would devastate endangered bowhead whales, polar bears, seals and other marine wildlife and would severely affect Native subsistence communities which have thrived in this remote region for thousands of years.
The rush to allow oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean moves us away from a clean energy future that doesn't rely on dirty fossil fuels. It puts a sensitive ecosystem at unnecessary risk. It threatens endangered and threatened species, as well as Native communities.
Shell's blundering attempts to drill in the Arctic Ocean in 2012 and the government reports that followed, as well as the recent National Academy of Sciences report on the limits of oil spill response in the Arctic show the risks of drilling in the Arctic Ocean are too high. The Ninth Circuit Court's remand of Chukchi Sea lease sale 193 provides an opportunity and obligation to engage in meaningful reconsideration of Arctic Ocean drilling.
Please step back and reassess whether to open the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling. The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico devastated and continues to haunt that region. Don't risk the same fate, and worse, for the Arctic Ocean by opening the region to unsafe oil drilling.
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