Shell Oil is lobbying the government and spending millions of dollars marketing to the public so they can drill “guilt-free” in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea. The proposed oil drilling location is twelve miles off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in an area designated as critical habitat for the threatened polar bear that also serves as vital feeding and migration grounds for the endangered bowhead whale.
The government is asking for public comment on Shell’s oil drilling plans. Take action by telling Secretary Salazar's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement that you won’t stand by and let the Arctic become the next victim of Big Oil's limitless greed. Please speak-up for the Arctic wildlife and help prevent another disastrous oil spill.
- Secreatry of Interior
I am writing to comment on Shell Oil's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea, 12 miles off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in an area designated as critical habitat for the threatened polar bear that also serves as vital feeding and migration grounds for the endangered bowhead whale. I urge the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Shell's new exploration plan and require rigorous oil spill prevention and response planning, including realistic on-the-ground testing of any claimed response technologies.
From all that is publicly known, Shell's current plans are woefully incomplete and inadequate. In addition, Shell's plans fail to sufficiently incorporate lessons learned and new information gained from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Overall, Shell fails to account for potentially significant effects to species such as endangered bowhead whales, threatened polar bears and the Inupiat people who depend on this wildlife for their subsistence way of life.
Among the inadequacies that must be addressed are:
Shell fails to acknowledge and address the likelihood of a well blowout - despite government data that shows that well blowouts occur more often during exploratory drilling in shallow water than in deep water, precisely the type of drilling proposed for the Beaufort Sea.
Shell's plans assume that only 10 percent of spilled oil will hit the shoreline and that more than 90 percent of the oil will be removed by offshore recovery methods. While this assumption is unrealistic in any environment, it is particularly egregious in the Arctic where icy conditions substantially limit the effectiveness of all known response methods.
Shell's entire oil spill response plan is based on a spill occurring during open water season in August. Any spill response plan for the Beaufort Sea must take into account conditions that are present toward the end of drilling season in October, when advancing ice conditions and winter weather would likely prevent cleanup.
The Arctic's marine environment, which is already being ravaged by climate change, is the least understood area in the world. Before any drilling in the Beaufort Sea is allowed to proceed, BOEMRE must first establish a baseline understanding of Arctic species, ecosystems and environmental conditions, and the impacts of oil spills in that environment, and it must do this through the EIS process.
BOEMRE's first priority must be protecting the wildlife and people whose survival is linked to the Arctic Ocean.
Thank you for considering my comments.
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