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Shell Oil about to begin drilling in Alaska

The Seattle Times

December 11, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Shell Oil about to begin drilling in Alaska

But what about the polar bears?

I was saddened to read that the Interior Department has approved Shell Oil’s plans to drill exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast [“Oil drilling in Alaska OK’d,” News, Dec. 8].

This drilling will take place in a sensitive ecosystem, home to one-tenth of the world’s polar bears, who are already suffering and dying as a result of climate change. What will happen to them if there’s an oil spill?

Shell can’t prove that it can clean up a spill in the extreme weather conditions of the Arctic Ocean.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tried to justify his decision by saying that Chukchi Sea oil exploration would help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is an admirable goal, but drilling for oil in sensitive ecosystems is not the way to achieve it.

Instead, we should move away from fossil fuels entirely. We can completely wean ourselves off fossil fuels in the next 20 years by switching to wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and hydroelectric power.

Isn’t this preferable to further endangering our friends the polar bears —not to mention ourselves?

— Maggie Willson, Seattle

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