New Off-Shore Drilling Planned for Arctic, Despite Drilling Disaster in Gulf

Fifty-six days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, with hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, more exploratory, off-shore drilling is still scheduled to commence July 1st in the Arctic. 

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Shell is scheduled to begin drilling in Alaska this July.  The proposed drill sites are in areas noted for extreme storms, strong winds, moving sea ice, and subzero temperatures.  These conditions would make it very difficult–if not impossible–for a successful response in the case of an oil spill. 


An oil spill in this area would have disastrous consequences for
walruses, fur seals, and polar bears, wreaking havoc on an ecosystem. 
The harmful effects of highly toxic oil spills can persist for decades,
continuing to harm marine and coastal environments and wildlife.  
Additionally, many Native Alaskan communities depend on the vitality of
this area to support their livelihoods.  WWF officials note that pools
of oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill can still be found in the area.

WWF’s
senior vice president for field programs, Tom Dillion, says that, “The
Gulf of Mexico has every technology available to cope with an oil
spill.  By comparison, there is no adequate plan, and even less
equipment, for responding to a blowout in the Arctic Ocean.  It would
be dangerously irresponsible to allow new drilling until we understand
what went wrong in the Gulf and have safeguards in place to protect the
Arctic.”

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