April Conservation Series: Arctic Drilling

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http://almanarastl.org/uniform/where-to-buy/embed/ We decided to focus on arctic drilling for this month’s conservation series because of the news that recently came from Washington- that the US government gave the go-ahead for the Royal Dutch Shell company to continue explorative drilling in the Arctic.

This proposal comes three years after a failed attempt to perform drilling in the same region, when an oil rig ran aground. That past drilling endeavour, in 2012, cost the Shell company $5 billion and the company was fined for pollution. Yet, they still believe that drilling in the Arctic is worth the risk.

The specific proposal allows the Anglo-Dutch oil company to revisit the Chuchki Sea, off the Alaskan coast, to perform explorative drilling for oil within the Arctic Circle. The company will be conducting tests to see just how much oil and gas are in the region. It is estimated that the Arctic houses 20% of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas (34 million barrels of oil in US waters). The only other larger oil reserve is found within Russian waters.

Now that the Department of Interior has approved Shell’s proposal, the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will perform an environmental assessment, which could take up to 30 days.drilling

Shell said in a statement: “Today’s Record of Decision reaffirms Lease Sale 193 and clears the way for the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management to conclude its review and make a decision on our Revised Chukchi Sea Exploration Plan. The execution of that plan remains contingent on achieving the necessary permits, legal certainty, and our own determination that we are prepared to explore safely and responsibly.”

This decision is already garnering a lot of criticism from environmentalists, putting an emphasis on the potential environmental risks.

Greenpeace’s Arctic campaigner Ian Duff said, “It’s an indefensible decision… The Arctic is melting rapidly because of climate change. But instead of seeing it as a warning, Shell sees profit. It wants to drill for more of the stuff that caused the melting in the first place. And all the evidence shows Shell can’t drill safely in the Arctic. The extreme conditions means it’s when, not if, a spill will happen.”

As the month continues we will take a look at the major players who are pushing for Arctic drilling. We will also be focussing on the arguments of both sides and evaluating the evidence that they bring forth.

Stay Tuned!