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.
The Latest On: Arctic
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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Today, the Department of the Interior announced a 60-day assessment of the 2012 drilling program in the Arctic Ocean.
Earthjustice legislative representative Jessica Ennis issued this statement:
A review of Arctic Ocean drilling is the only reasonable option, given the continuous parade of mistakes in Shell’s operations. However, that review must be thorough, independent and cannot pre-judge the outcome.
With one Arctic drill rig shipwrecked on an Alaskan island and the other reportedly under criminal investigation for possibly “operating with serious safety and pollution control problems,” oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is doing a pretty thorough job at proving the quest for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic is just too dangerous, too dirty, and too damaging. The week’s events also prove once again that the U.S. Department of Interior should not have approved drilling in the most remote, dangerous place on the planet.