WASHINGTON, DC-– The Obama administration granted approval today for Shell Oil to move ahead with plans to drill in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. The decision comes against a backdrop of growing opposition in Seattle and across the country to Arctic drilling, and just as the U.S. assumes leadership of the Arctic Council.
There will be six exploratory rigs drilling off the coast. The proposal was back by the Department of the Interior. In 2012, Shell stopped operations in the area after a series of… let’s call them setbacks. One of those minor incidents included one of their drilling ships running aground.
In response Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed that just days after the United States took over chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an international body dedicated to protecting the Arctic environment, the Obama Administration decided to allow Shell to move forward with its dirty and dangerous plan to drill in our Arctic waters. This is exactly the wrong message to send to the world.
Shell’s poor track record in the Arctic does not inspire confidence in its ability to drill safely in the unique and harsh environment of America’s Arctic Ocean. In fact, an analysis by the Obama administration itself predicts a 75% chance of a major oil spill if Shell is allowed to drill in America’s Arctic Ocean.
Both science and common sense is crystal clear in telling us that undeveloped dirty fuels, especially those in the Arctic, must remain in the ground if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate disruption. Downplaying the threats drilling poses to our climate, communities, and environment — as Shell continues to do — does not in reality make the threats any less serious. The Obama administration must say no to drilling in America’s Arctic Ocean, cancel these leases, and remove future leasing from the five-year offshore drilling plan.”