Shell's drilling rig the Kulluk ran aground on New Year's Eve, topping off a year of accidents.
Gary Braasch, worldviewofglobalwarming.org
Most recently, two of President Obama’s trusted advisers have requested that Obama hit the brakes on Shell’s oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean.
Browner and Podesta said they had been open to offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic provided oil companies and the government could impose adequate safeguards, ensure sufficient response capacity and develop a deeper understanding of how oil behaves in ice and freezing water. But after a year of Shell blunders, they have changed their minds.
"Following a series of mishaps and errors, as well as overwhelming weather conditions, it has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean," wrote Browner and Podesta.
"The Obama administration shouldn't issue any new permits to Shell this year and should suspend all action on other companies' applications to drill in this remote and unpredictable region," Brown and Podesta publically advised.
Browner was Obama’s director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change policy and Podesta led Obama’s 2009 transition team.
In early January, the Obama administration began an investigation of Shell’s performance which includes a grounding and near-grounding of its drilling rigs, an oil spill containment dome collapse, and multiple simultaneous engine failures on its custom-built tug.
What's always been clear is that Shell cannot guarantee adequate safeguards or ensure sufficient response capacity when extreme Arctic weather and remote conditions offer too great a challenge to response crews. And certainly Shell has not developed a deeper understanding of how oil behaves in ice and freezing water.
Currently, there is no technology to clean an oil spill from icy Arctic waters. Among the species that could be harmed by a Shell oil spill are charismatic Arctic animals, such as seals, walruses, polar bears and whales.
How Arctic Animals could be impacted by a Shell oil spill:
The Wilderness Society and other conservation groups have been calling on the Obama administration to stop Shell from moving forward.
Yet despite the string of serious mishaps and accidents, not to mention the lack of public information on the condition of the grounded Kulluk rig, Shell’s current plans are to continue drilling this summer.
The question that remains is whether Obama will heed these warnings and reverse his previous decision to allow the Arctic to be open for offshore drilling.
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