The following statement from The Wilderness Society President William H. Meadows is in response to the Department of Interior’s 2012-2017 offshore leasing plan, which includes leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic Ocean.
“It is disappointing that the Obama administration has chosen to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration when it comes to drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Today’s announced lease sale plan continues to take America down the road of putting big oil first, threatening our few remaining pristine areas with drilling and spilling. The Arctic Ocean is also critically important to Native communities that depend on the waters to feed their communities and as part of their cultural heritage.
“In planning to sell more leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, the administration continues to ignore glaring problems with any Arctic Ocean drilling plan. There is no proven way to clean up an oil spill in icy Arctic waters, and even if there was, there is still vastly insufficient response capacity and Arctic onshore infrastructure to do so. Furthermore, there still has not been adequate scientific research done on the Arctic marine ecosystem, so the administration is literally flying blind into this new leasing plan.
“It is too soon for the administration to say that they will have the necessary science, the proven spill-response techniques, and the needed response capacity and onshore infrastructure by the time of their proposed Arctic Ocean lease sales. Rather than putting the cart before the horse, they need to call a timeout on Arctic Ocean leasing and do the needed research and testing of spill-response technology first.”