The Department of the Interior today announced it is developing a new plan to govern offshore oil and gas drilling from 2017–2022. The agency is asking the public for information about all areas of the outer continental shelf to consider for oil leasing. One thing is clear already—the Department should not include oil leasing in the Arctic Ocean in any new plan.
Drilling in these remote and icy waters, home to polar bears, walrus, whales and a vibrant indigenous culture, is too risky. Pursuing dirty oil here also takes us off the path toward a clean energy future and would exacerbate climate change.
As a result of Earthjustice litigation, Interior is currently reconsidering whether existing Arctic Ocean leases in the Chukchi seas should stand. It should take that opportunity to conclude offshore drilling does not belong in the Arctic Ocean.
Such a special place shouldn’t be included at all in its future leasing plan.