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Incredibly, Shell Gets Another Go at Arctic Drilling

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Article by SustainableBusiness.com published 1 April 2015

Incredibly, Shell Gets Another Go at Arctic Drilling

Sadly, the Obama Administration has once again given Shell the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic.

“The Arctic is an important component of the Administration’s national energy strategy, and we remain committed to taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas leasing and exploration offshore Alaska,” says Sally Jewell, Secretary of Interior, which made the decision.

The decision coincides with the 26th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Decades later, the area has still not recovered, and the company continues to get away without paying reparations. 

Amazingly, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) says the most likely outcome from Shell’s exploration for oil is “limited and unsuccessful exploration of leases, and nothing more.”

Based on “considerable historical data” BOEM says there is a 75% chance of at least one major oil spill if leasing and drilling proceeds over the projected 77 years! 

And the agency still approved Shell’s permit.

In a “play it again Sam” scenario, Shell has hired Noble Drilling to do the work, after pleading guilty to eight felonies and fined  $12.2 million for its botched attempts in 2012. Felonies include improperly discharging oily water into the ocean and covering up or neglecting to report a litany of engine and other system failures that it knew about before it arrived in the Arctic Ocean.   

In 2012 Shell became a global laughing stock, as giant rigs broke free from their moorings and beached on Alaskan shores, dire storm warnings were ignored, and multiple health, safety and environmental regulations were breached.

Worst of all, Shell didn’t even have a plan to clean up the inevitable disastrous spill. US Coast Guard officials repeatedly said the resources for cleaning up an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean don’t exist.

And last year, a court ruled against the Interior Department’s permit because of its poor environmental impact analysis.

Here we go again.

And DOI announced Shell’s permit on the same day that President Obama delivered his climate pledge to the UN.

Greenpeace’s ship Esperanza – with six courageous volunteers on board – will follow Shell’s giant oil rig, the Polar Pioneer, as it makes its way to the biodiverse, extremely sensitive Chukchi Sea in Alaska. 

Read our article, Protecting the Arctic While Promoting Offshore Drilling.

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