The Environmental Protection Agency slapped Shell with a substantial $1.1 million fine for polluting the pristine air of the Arctic while exploring for oil during 2012.
That’s when Shell could NOT stay out of the news, making headlines with its drill ship breaking towing lines and slamming into rocky beaches. That’s when their oil containment/spill response equipment was “crushed like a beer can” according to officials, during testing before heading to the Arctic. That season was filled with mishap after mishap and it turns out that they weren’t just hurting their own reputation. They were fouling the air and risking damage to America’s Arctic.
The price tag for the antics in the Arctic that resulted in not one well that reached oil is now more than $5 billion dollars. But concerns about Shell’s ill-fated operations do not end with the company’s inability to meet the requirements of its air permits. Shell’s air emissions include carbon pollution, like the soot coming off of those dirty oil rigs that spew black, heat-absorbing soot right onto the Arctic ice.
Scientists have found that the Arctic ice cap acts like the world’s air conditioner by cooling the whole planet. But tapping into and burning oil from the Arctic Ocean not only pumps carbon pollution into the air, it is a one-two punch to the Arctic, further melting ice that is already at its lowest ever-measured levels, while the Arctic is already warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean will be uniquely bad for our climate – and the costs far outweigh the benefits.
It’s time for the Obama administration to recognize that drilling in the Arctic Ocean is a no-go if the U.S. is really going to do something about climate change. And Shell could start by investing its next $5 billion in renewables instead of more dangerous Arctic drilling.