Oil Giant Still Ill-Equipped to Handle Extreme Arctic Conditions
Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it will not move forward with plans to drill for oil in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas this year. Known as the Polar Bear Seas, these waters are home to the entire US population of polar bears and serve as an important migration route for bowhead and beluga whales. They are also home to some of the most extreme and dangerous conditions on the planet, making drilling a risky proposition.
In response Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement:
“Shell’s announcement is recognition of what we’ve been saying all along—the company cannot safely drill in our Arctic waters. Shell’s disturbing trend of failing to meet safety and pollution requirements comes against a backdrop of shifting ice floes and other reminders of the dangers and difficulty of drilling in the Arctic.
The extreme conditions of the Arctic have resulted in a delicate natural balance that has allowed wildlife and local communities to survive for generations. Oil drilling here could damage Arctic waters and wildlife for decades and end Alaska Natives’ ancient subsistence way of life.
Realizing the dangers of drilling in this pristine and harsh environment, more than a million people have spoken out in opposition to Shell’s drilling plans over the past months. The truth is that we don’t need to open this irreplaceable area to drilling. Instead we should focus on making our cars cleaner and more efficient, expanding our transportation choices and investing in clean energy innovation.
The Polar Bear Seas, special places in the Western Arctic and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be protected, not given away to Big Oil. “
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