Action needed to protect the Arctic Ocean from oil and gas drilling

After months of blunders during the 2012 drill season, Royal Dutch Shell lost control of its Kulluk drill rig while attempting to tow it south. It ran aground near Kodiak, Alaska.  

The push to drill for offshore oil in the Arctic Ocean never seems to end, despite the potential for a catastrophic oil spill by an industry that has not proved itself capable of operating safely in Alaska’s cold, stormy and remote seas.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing a five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing in American waters. It is vital that we all speak out against including the Arctic Ocean in those plans, and we have until the end of this month to submit comments to BOEM.

Take action: Protect sensitive Arctic waters from drilling.

To proceed with leasing or drilling in the Arctic Ocean would be irresponsible because the agency has not finished developing Arctic-specific regulations for the oil industry, and has not implemented key changes recommended by investigations of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

A major oil spill would endanger not only polar bears, seals and other marine mammals, but also devastate Alaska’s northern coast, which is heavily used by indigenous people, bears, caribou and migratory birds.

We are still in the process of learning which areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas are especially sensitive and at higher risk of destruction in the event of a major oil spill. And as Royal Dutch Shell proved with a series of blunders in 2012, the industry is incapable of safely transporting equipment to and drilling in such a remote, unforgiving environment.

It is critical that you take action now to prevent potentially catastrophic offshore drilling in the Arctic in the future. Please take a moment to tell BOEM that you oppose the terrible risks of offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic can’t be protected without your help. Please let BOEM know that the Arctic Ocean is too important to be sacrificed to unsafe drilling.

Photo: Polar bears depend on Arctic waters for survival. A major oil spill would add more stress to this species struggling to survive under climate change. Photo by NOAA.