Shell Oil has been allowed to bend the rules too many times. Although its oil-spill containment barge hasn't passed inspection, the Interior Department is allowing Shell to begin the initial drilling phases in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. The Environmental Protection Agency also gave Shell a one-year waiver on air-pollution standards.
Shell has arrived at the drilling site, but time is running out. Its drilling permit expires in less than a month, and it now wants the Interior Department to bend the rules and extend its permit another two weeks.
The current Sept. 24 deadline was set to give Shell time to drill a relief well event of a blowout. Once the sea ice arrives, stopping a blowout or responding to gushing oil will be impossible for an entire, long Arctic winter. Oil could pump into polar bears' sea-ice habitat for months.
Demand that Interior Secretary Salazar hold Shell responsible for its subpar operation and refuse any extension.
A late-season blowout in the Arctic could be catastrophic, with oil gushing into the ocean for months while sea ice makes response and cleanup impossible. Shell's Sept. 24 deadline is based on historic ice records and should not be discarded because Shell has not been able to get its act together to begin drilling when it wished to.
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Please keep your promise to hold Shell responsible to the high standards this fragile environment demands: Refuse to grant this dangerous extension.
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