Success: Oil Drilling Banned in Arctic Wildlife Hot Spot


Target: U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Goal: Applaud the decision to protect an ecologically important area of the Arctic from oil drilling.

Thanks to the Obama administration, the Chukchi Sea’s Hanna Shoal has received the protection it so greatly needs. The Hanna Shoal is a 30-mile-long shelf off of Alaska’s northwestern coast and is an important feeding area for bowhead whales, bearded seals and walruses, and is considered one of the most biologically productive hot spots in the Chukchi Sea. Many attempts have been made by oil companies to approve exploration and drilling in the Hanna Shoal, just downstream from areas already leased to oil companies. However, thanks to the efforts of individuals and groups fighting to protect this important area, the Hanna Shoal is off limits to any future oil exploitation.

Roughly 90 percent of Alaska’s revenue comes from oil drilling, leading many state lawmakers to choose exploration and exploitation over the ecosystems which rely on clean water and untouched habitats for survival. In addition to the chemicals and disruption involved in drilling, oil spills are common and the companies responsible for the spills have no way to thoroughly clean them, putting animals and the environment in further danger.

Many groups and individuals have worked tirelessly over the years to keep the Hanna Shoal safe. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management spent more than $10 million from 2012-15 studying the effects of upstream exploitation on the vibrant shoal. Those efforts have paid off. This decision is a huge step toward protecting the Chukchi Sea and its many inhabitants, though continued efforts are needed to ensure the environment and wildlife are prioritized in future decisions. The newly preserved area is about 2,500 square miles, while another 184,000 square miles of the Chukchi Sea is still susceptible to exploitation from oil companies seeking leases in the area.

Sign this petition to express your support of the protection of the Hanna Shoal and the continued fight to keep the Chukchi Sea safe from the exploitation of oil companies.


Dear Secretary Jewell,

Like all of our waters, the Chukchi Sea faces grave threats from human exploration and the overuse of potentially dangerous resources. The Hanna Shoal is a vibrant habitat home to plankton, clams and worms, and in turn is a feeding ground for walruses, seals and whales. Thanks to environmentalists, conservationists and policymakers, the Hanna Shoal is now safe from future oil drilling.

While much more work needs to be done to protect the rest of the Chukchi Sea, this decision represents a huge step forward for conservation in Alaska.

I applaud the decision to make the Hanna Shoal off limits to oil companies.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alastair Rae via Wikimedia Commons

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