Today the Obama administration announced a new draft five year oil development plan for American offshore waters, including those in the Arctic Ocean. Statement from Earthjustice attorney Holly Harris regarding Arctic proposals.
“Secretary Salazar is right to admit that we need more science and the capacity to clean up an oil spill in the icy waters of the Arctic. For those same reasons, he is wrong to propose new leasing in the Arctic and he was wrong in August to have approved part one of the largest Arctic Ocean drilling proposal in the history of our country.
“Today’s announcement also makes clear the government made a serious mistake last month when it affirmed its decision to lease 2.7 million acres of Arctic Ocean bottom in the Chukchi Sea given Secretary Salazar now acknowledges the need to gain a better scientific understanding of this region before developing oil.
“The federal government scientists admit big gaps in what they know about the basic features of the Arctic Ocean like where various species of fish and marine mammals live and feed at different times of the year, how ocean currents move and affect the food chain in this ocean and how an oil spill could be stopped and cleaned up under frozen ice. It’s hard to imagine a responsible way to develop oil now in this largely unknown body of water when we don’t understand what harms we need to avoid or how to avoid them.”