The Latest On: Arctic
Royal Dutch Shell announced it will suspend all activity in the Arctic for 2013. The oil giant endured many embarrassing and costly accidents while drilling exploratory wells off the north coast of Alaska in 2012. Both of the Arctic drill rigs will be traveling to Asia for repairs sustained during the severe weather common to the Arctic.
Shell announced that the company is hitting the pause button on oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic. Mother Nature graphically demonstrated this summer what conservation groups have been saying for more than a decade—the extreme weather and conditions of the Arctic, with its stormy, frozen seas make the Arctic environmentally treacherous for oil drilling.
As the environmental ministers of the Arctic nations, including the United States, meet in Sweden next week, they have an opportunity to show leadership on an important though less well-known climate pollutant, black carbon (soot).
While carbon dioxide remains the most important, long-lasting pollutant forcing climate change, recent studies have revealed that short-lived climate forcers like black carbon are equally damaging, especially in the Arctic.
As Royal Dutch Shell continues to make perfectly clear, industry is not prepared to safely explore for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic. Shell’s Arctic operations have been called the “gold standard” of the oil industry and if this is the best they’ve got, the industry is not Arctic ready.
Shell Oil continues to violate multiple aspects of its air quality permits by not implementing pollution control technology, failing to properly maintain equipment, and violating emission standards. “Shell’s operations this summer repeatedly violated the terms of its air permits. The violations speak to a lack of conscientious management” said Earthjustice Attorney Colin O’Brien in a statement. The violations are indicative of the company’s inability to safely and efficiently operate in the challenging Arctic environment.
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