As Oil Gushes in Gulf, BP Plans to Drill in Canada's Arctic Ocean

Prime minister makes assurances, but so did BP before blowout

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Canada’s prime minister made a big show this week of insisting his nation—which like the U.S. is allowing offshore oil drilling in the Beafort Sea this summer—would not "tolerate" such massive oil spills as the one now unleashing in the Gulf of Mexico.

How PM Stephen Harper can make such a guarantee is rather interesting, especially when one considers that Canada granted its drilling leases in the Beaufort to British Petroleum, the company responsible for the Gulf oil spill. He assures that drilling won’t proceed "unless the environment is protected."

If Harper sticks to his statement, oil drilling in the Beaufort can’t proceed, because there is no way to protect the fragile, ice-laden Arctic seas from oil spills—no matter how insistent he is that preventive measures will first be put in place.

Keep in mind, as the Gulf tragedy unfolds on a historic scale, that BP had assured the U.S. government that any chance of an oil spill in the Gulf was "insignificant" and could easily be handled with its state-of-the-art, ‘fail-safe’ prevention devices. It’s the same line Shell Oil used in convincing the Minerals Management Service to grant its permit for drilling in Arctic offshore waters.

It might be helpful for PM Harper, and for that matter President Obama, to read why Earthjustice is so strongly opposed to drilling in the Arctic. It’s all about protecting one of the world’s most remarkable places, and the creatures and human communities whose lives depend on it.

From 2006–2014, Terry was managing editor for Earthjustice's blog, online monthly newsletter and print Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.