A little more than a year after British Petroleum (BP)'s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has approved Shell's controversial offshore drilling project in the Arctic.
Shell claims that if a spill occurred in the Arctic, the company would be able to recover 90% of the oil. In reality, there is no such technology that exists to soak up oil in frigid environments, and due to the remote location, a blowout could flow unabated until the weather warmed enough for human access.
In order to move forward, Shell must also receive approval from various other U.S. agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Sign this petition to pressure the EPA to put a halt to offshore drilling in the unpredictable and remote Arctic region.
I am writing out of deep concern over the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE)'s recent approval of the Revised Beaufort Sea Plan of Exploration, Royal Dutch Shell's controversial offshore drilling project in the Arctic.
Deepwater drilling, as evidenced by last year's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, is not without risk, and a catastrophe in the Arctic would be far worse than in the Gulf. First of all, there is little evidence that adequate technology exists to sufficiently contain and remove oil from the frigid Arctic waters in the event of a spill, despite claims by Shell. Secondly, due the remote location of the wells and harsh climate of the region, a blowout in the winter could flow continuously for weeks and months until the ice melted enough to allow cleanup crews access. This would irrevocably damage the region's economy by affecting the seals, polar bears, bowhead whales, and other marine life that local native Alaskan communities heavily rely upon.
All of these potential impacts, and more, would normally be assessed and publicized via the creation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). However, BOEMRE determined that such a massive scientific effort was not necessary, and instead only commissioned a small internal Environmental Assessment (EA).
Part of effective risk management is moving forward in fresh directions armed with the knowledge of past mistakes, despite pressures by interested parties to stay on the beaten path. It is time to stop Shell's plans for offshore drilling in the unpredictable and remote Arctic region.
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