As the tragic oil spill in the Gulf illustrates, there is no fail-safe way to drill for oil and gas in ecologically sensitive areas.
Still at risk to oil and gas development is the remarkably fragile Beaufort and Chukchi seas of northern Alaska. These waters are home to polar bears, whales, walruses and seals. And Shell Oil is poised to begin drilling here this summer. Help us stop this misguided plan.
There is simply no safe way to drill in these waters. Studies have shown that even seismic testing of potential drilling sites is known to have an impact on marine animals' habits and lifecycles. And research conducted by the Minerals Management Service predicts a 40 percent chance of a large oil spill. Making matters worse, the technology to clean up a spill in Arctic waters full of broken sea ice doesn't even exist.
Please tell President Obama that the Gulf spill should be the last. We need to stop Shell Oil from drilling in Alaska.
The tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted me to write to you today.
Once again, the oil industry and our country's reliance on oil has triggered an ecological disaster.
The impact to the environment is still incalculable, but the long-term impacts are certain to be severe, both to the environment and to the economy of the region.
As this latest spill sadly illustrates, there is no fail-safe way to drill for oil or gas in ecologically sensitive areas on land or sea.
Some of America's most biologically-rich areas are still at risk of oil and gas development, including the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean, prime habitat for polar bears, whales, walruses and seals.
A spill in these frigid waters would be catastrophic, potentially affecting not just marine animals in the immediate area of a spill, but all wildlife, shorebirds, and waterfowl that inhabit the coastal areas of America's Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In light of the Gulf oil spill, it is imperative that you cancel any plans to explore or drill for oil and gas in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. In addition, your administration should immediately extend the comment deadline for citizen response to plans to lease and drill within the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
Finally, protecting our national treasures by promoting responsible, renewable energy should be on the forefront of the debate as the cleanup continues in the Gulf.
Instead of opening new lands and waters to drilling, there should be a national push towards a clean energy future that protects the economic benefits and the clean air and water, wilderness and wildlife that our public lands provide.
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