Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling campaign has been given go-ahead clearance for operating in the Chukchi Sea, located just off the coast of Alaska.
A week ago, the White House released a video previewing President Obama’s planned visit at the end of the month to the Alaskan Arctic to see the impacts of climate change firsthand. He will meet with local communities of fishermen and hunters, as well as touring the region’s melting glaciers.
“Because what’s happening in Alaska isn’t just a preview of what will happen to the rest of us if we don’t take action. It’s our wake-up call. The alarm bells are ringing. And as long as I’m president, America will lead the world to meet this threat — before it’s too late,” the President said in a video released on August 13.
On Monday, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno announced that “Shell has received approval of one Application for Permit to Modify (APM) to conduct exploratory drilling activities into potential oil-bearing zones offshore Alaska,” according to a statement posted on the agency’s website.
Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said in a statement released Monday that “The President cannot have it both ways. Announcing a tour of Alaska to highlight climate change days before giving Shell the final approval to drill in the Arctic ocean is deeply hypocritical.”
“When President Obama visits the Arctic this month, he must face the communities he is sacrificing to Shell’s profits,” said advocate-group Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel in a statement on their website.
“The approval of this permit is a huge victory for the American people,” said Thomas Pyle, President of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), in a statement released today. “Shell is finally able to begin the process of exploring these areas for vast oil resources that could make America stronger. But this is about more than finding oil. This is about investing in America’s future.”
The corporation Royal Dutch Shell, based in Holland, is frequently the target of environmental activists. The past couple of months has seen controversial action taken to block the Arctic drilling vessels Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer. Throughout 2015, activists and environmental organizations have been battling with the oil company as they prepared to launch their campaign.
Two frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the news.
The Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we know, it's not worth the risk of drilling. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 18, 2015
I have opposed Arctic oil drilling for years. Drilling the Arctic at a time when we face a serious climate emergency should be unthinkable.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 18, 2015
Nearly universally accepted by the scientific community, human-driven climate change is seen as a crisis that humankind must deal with. This year, a Pew Research Center survey saw 46% of adults questioned saying that global warming was “a very serious problem.”
Opponents of Shell’s campaign cite a fact sheet by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which finds that “over the course of more than three quarters of a century of oil and gas activities — [there is] a 75-percent chance of one or more spills of more than 1,000 barrels of oil,” as a main talking point.
“Oil causes harm to wildlife through physical contact, ingestion, inhalation and absorption,” according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The document also says that “Long-term effects on birds and marine mammals are less understood, but oil ingestion has been shown to cause suppression to the immune system, organ damage, skin irritation and ulceration, and behavioral changes. Damage to the immune system can lead to secondary infections that cause death and behavioral changes may affect an animal’s ability to find food or avoid predators. Long-term consequences can include impaired reproduction potentially impacting population levels.”
Leonard, in a statement released on July 31, said that “Drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean would be a terrible mistake, and we call on President Obama to join the millions of people who are speaking with one voice to say it loud and clear: ShellNo.”
Via: Huffington Post