Target: US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Goal: Stop offshore oil drilling in the Arctic from endangering polar bears, beluga whales, and other at-risk species.
Some of the world’s largest oil companies have their eyes on the Arctic. Companies like Shell Oil want to start offshore drilling in Arctic waters, including the fragile Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s western coast. But while Arctic offshore oil drilling could be a bonanza for Big Oil, it would threaten species like polar bears, walruses, and beluga whales. A major oil spill in Arctic waters would be disastrous for these and other wildlife, and would be extremely difficult to clean up. No proven, effective technology exists to remove spilled oil from the treacherous Arctic environment, so the effects of a spill would likely linger for decades.
As if that’s not bad enough, drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea is also inconsistent with President Obama’s stated goal of curbing climate change. Offshore Arctic drilling would put more oil on the international market, at a time when we need to be shifting away from fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy. Not only that, but the drilling operations themselves would be a source of soot pollution, which would coat nearby ice sheets. Because black soot absorbs heat faster than clean ice, soot pollution would exacerbate the effects of climate change, causing ice sheets to melt even faster than they already are.
Despite these risks, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering leasing new offshore tracts in the Chukchi Sea to oil companies for drilling. Sign the petition below to submit a public comment telling the Bureau not to lease Arctic waters to Big Oil.
Dear Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,
We, the undersigned, are writing to urge you not to lease additional offshore areas in the Chukchi Sea for oil drilling. Shell’s failed 2012 attempt to begin offshore drilling in the Arctic shows that the oil industry is unprepared to drill in this fragile and challenging environment. In fact, oil companies have not yet demonstrated that they can safely take advantage of the offshore leases they already own. Given this reality, it makes no sense to lease additional waters to the oil industry.
A major oil spill in the Arctic would be nothing short of disastrous. The frozen Arctic environment presents special challenges when it comes to cleaning up an oil spill, and the industry has not shown they are prepared to deal with a spill in the Chukchi Sea. Yet if offshore drilling is allowed in the Arctic, human error and the challenging environment make it all but inevitable that a spill will occur sooner or later.
We urge you to do the right thing for the Arctic, and cancel plans to put additional offshore areas up for lease to the oil industry. Please also re-evaluate existing proposals to drill in the Arctic, and protect Arctic water from reckless offshore drilling operations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: National Marine Mammal Laboratory