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Back to the Bush Leagues on Arctic Drilling?


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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 November 2009, 12:26 PM
An ocean continues to wait for change
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the Arctic waters surrounding Alaska, George W. Bush is still president, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has the chance to inaugurate a new regime.

Shell Oil recently got the green light from the Department of Interior to drill next summer just off the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in waters that are an important migratory route for endangered bowhead whales. With numerous decisions on offshore drilling in the Arctic still pending, the looming question is, will Sec. Salazar chart his own course—using science as a guide—or will he continue to make decisions as though Bush were still in charge?

Last summer, Salazar told the magazine American Cowboy, "The science is fundamental to decisions we make. Ignoring the science will imperil important priorities to the United States and our world. Unfortunately, the last administration often ignored the science to get to what it wanted to get to. We will not do that."

On the Arctic, science has spoken, and I hope Sec. Salazar meant what he said.

Marine scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the ocean watchdog that is part of the Department of Commerce, recently submitted comments on a plan the Department of Interior is considering—created by the Bush administration—that would open an unprecedented amount of the Arctic to disruptive offshore oil and gas drilling.

NOAA expressed concern that the drilling plan understates the risks and challenges of an oil spill in Arctic waters, which could have tremendous impact on marine life and economically critical fisheries. Harsh ocean conditions, volatile weather patterns and the prevalence of ice combine to make removal of oil spilled in Arctic waters an exceedingly difficult—if not impossible—task. NOAA scientists also cited how little is understood about the impact of loud seismic testing (used to find oil and gas reserves) and drilling noise on marine wildlife.

To ensure protection of valuable fisheries and other marine life against spills and harmful noise, NOAA recommended that the North Aleutian Basin—which contains the unmatched fisheries of Bristol Bay—as well as sections of the Chukchi Sea—part of the "Polar Bear Seas" and home to endangered bowhead whales—be left out of drilling plans unless research demonstrates industrial activity can be conducted without doing harm.

Voices from NOAA aren't the only ones calling for a more cautious approach to offshore drilling in Alaska. In mid-September, 400 Ph.D.-level scientists signed a letter to President Obama calling for a "time out from offshore industrial activity [in the U.S. Arctic Ocean] to allow for a precautionary, science-based approach that better assesses the consequences of development in a rapidly changing ecosystem."

Add to that a letter to Sec. Salazar from 70 members of Congress that calls for a deferral of offshore leasing and drilling in the Arctic until research determines "if…where, when, and how" it can occur, and it becomes clear that the sensible choice for Salazar is to give scientists the time they need to further study the Arctic and all of its resources.

Global warming is affecting the Arctic more rapidly than any other place on earth, and the region's rich marine resources and native communities face a perilous future as a result. This reality makes it that much more critical to adopt a time-out on drilling in Arctic waters until scientific research demonstrates the fragile, complex ecosystem there can withstand it.

Sec. Salazar must choose either to fulfill his stated commitment to science or cater to the profits of the oil and gas industry, imperiling the Arctic's wildlife and people and reminding us all of the poor environmental stewardship of the Bush years.
 

The Arctic is no place for industrialization: the natural conditions for wildlife and indigenus human life are fragile and under added stress as global warming increases. Show clear, scientific evidence that the risks of drilling and extracting oil are truly negligible, or don't even prolong the period of study.
gizzlesene

Very informative and trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading
omegle sohbet

Look what Salazar is doing to the mustangs and burros Last year with Bush in office 7,000 mustangs and burros where rounded up.,,in the summer only because the stress of helicopters chasing young and old 10-15 miles is" traumatic. " according to Tom Dyer of ther BLM. He was speaking about a roundup in the summer where 11 horses where killed during roundup. With the appointment of Salazar by Obama this year. 12,000 mustangs and burros will be rounded up. Northern Nevada starting in Dec ending in Feb. 3,000 mustangs will be rounded up Horses struggle to survive winter in this area. This roundup is called genocide.

I belive that Interior Secretary, Kenneth Salazar, shold be immediately replaced. All he has done is to continue Gerrge Bush's worn out agenda has his own.

Richard Carpenter Attorney

ALthough I have written to the Obama admin. to replace Salazar, I have not found any concerted action being taken by environmental groups.
His policies do appear to be following Bush-era pandering to special interests, whether in the Northern Rockies, or Alaska.
Does anyone have information on any lobbying for his removal?

While we would all like to preserve the environment, we must take steps to wean ourselves off of third world oil. There are ways to extract oil from the region using cleaner methods and stricter procedures.

Of course we should not continue to invest in drilling oil in our most fragile wild places, clinging to an inefficient and obsolete technology that's strangling the planet.

Read Robert Kennedy's recent Huffington Post about Chinese competition in green technology innovation -- research and manufacturing. The Chinese government is investing heavily in technologies that will move the world away from oil, while our own government continues to pander to the huge corporations whose relentless lack of foresight and lack of social conscience (actual contempt for the law and for the good of the people) have brought us to the systemwide crisis in which we struggle now.

Americans love to tout our innovative spirit. Let's show our business community just how innovative we can be. Let's demand serious change while we can. Our economy is running out of steam fast -- we need to use what strength we have left pursuing the right path, the path that can lead us to efficiency, employment, and the hope of restoring the once-great natural vigor of the planet -- the great natural vigor that underlies all wealth, all health, all hope for the future.

Ken Salazar was a big mistake. Its time to push for a new Secretary of the Interior. His decisions, thus far, on wildlife, conservation and the environment demonstrate either a lack of understanding of the issues or total commitment to Bush era policies.

Salazar has got to go. It seems he will make a decision that initially seems to be going in the right direction to help save our planet. Then there is the undoing of it in the same breath. All remnants of the Bush years must be erased. What a bleak time that was in our history. Especially when it came to to the environment, wildlife and anything else that didn't put money in Big Oils pocket.

OBAMA SIOULD GET RID OF SALAZAR ~
HE SPEAKS WITH 'FORKED TONGUE' ALL TOO OFTEN
AND HIS ACTIONS DEMONSTRATE
HE IS STILL REPORTING TO FORMER PRESIDENT BUSH
THE TIME IS COMING ~
` TOO SOON ` ~
TO ALLOW HIS DOUBLE DEALING TO CONTINUE ~
GET RID OF HIM
AND REPLACE HIM WITH
A TRUE PROGRESSIVE AND PRO-ACTIVE ADMINISTRATOR.

What you say is sad but true. Whereas I will not compare Obama to Bush, it does appear this administration is not standing strong against big business/oil and is succumbing to special interest and the money that comes with it. I am very disappointed. There is just too much sun and wind out there to harness to be drilling in the Arctic. When will we learn? I hope before it is too late.

What you say is sad but true. Whereas I will not compare Obama to Bush, it does appear this administration is not standing strong against big business/oil and is succumbing to special interest and the money that comes with it. I am very disappointed. There is just too much sun and wind out there to harness to be drilling in the Artic. When will we learn? I hope before it is too late.

I agree with you totally. Mr. Salazar has demonstrated that he is NOT for protecting the environment or wildlife at all. His appointment as Interior Secretary was a BIG mistake!

Find ways of tightening our belts; we use many times the amount of energy we need....dah.

The Arctic is no place for industrialization: the natural conditions for wildlife and indigenus human life are fragile and under added stress as global warming increases.

Show clear, scientific evidence that the risks of drilling and extracting oil are truly negligible, or don't even prolong the period of study.

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