The Obama administration is all ears—deaf ones—when it comes to dire warnings about drilling in the Arctic made by scientists, policymakers, international figures and celebrities.
The latest caution came today from the world’s largest and oldest insurance market, Lloyd’s of London, which warned that offshore drilling in the Arctic would “constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.” The agency urged companies to “think carefully about the consequences of action” before exploring for oil in the region.”
Also weighing in today was Dr. Jeffrey Short, the research chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 31 years, who as lead chemist for both the state of Alaska and federal government, witnessed firsthand the devastation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and the Deepwater Horizon blowout two years ago.
Dr. Short concluded in the traditionally conservative Anchorage Daily News that:
There is no reliable method for cleaning up even a small oil spill in Arctic conditions; there are not sufficient personnel or equipment in the region capable of carrying out an effective response plan offshore; and there are gaps in basic scientific information about the ocean ecosystem needed to prioritize response, rescue, and cleanup efforts and equipment.
Direct, easy to understand and spoken from a position of experience on the front lines.
We are going beyond saving the polar bears, here. Let’s talk international stature. Does the United States really want to be responsible for the first Arctic oil spill as the world watches? As Canada carefully considers environmental regulations to protect the Arctic, we barrel in without proper infrastructure. As Russia plots strategically to navigate the newly open waters, we rush to make the first puncture in the ocean floor before they do.
Earthjustice, on behalf of a coalition of groups, filed an appeal today in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the approval of Lease Sale 193, which opened for oil drilling the remote Chukchi Sea. A sea so remote and pristine, it’s rich with iconic species and wildlife, crucial for feeding the indigenous people of the region.
When money and experience weigh in, isn’t it the American way to at least listen?