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Who Needs Cute? A Jab at Shell and Arctic Drilling

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS: July 19, 2012

Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic waters of Alaska next month is no laughing matter for most environmentalists, who still hope the Obama administration will deny the company some permits at the last minute. But Greenpeace is having some fun all the same.

On Thursday, a satirical billboard depicting a family of polar bears went up near Shell’s Houston headquarters. “You can’t run your S.U.V. on cute,” its slogan reads. “Let’s go.”

“Let’s go,” of course, is Shell’s own slogan – a kind of cheer for more natural gas drilling and other forms of energy development.

The ad is not likely to amuse many Shell employees or other Houston residents whose livelihoods generally depend on the oil and gas industry. But Greenpeace said it chose the slogan from over 10,000 online suggestions submitted online to, a parody site created by the group and the Yes Lab that mimics Shell’s logos and public relations efforts (with a twist).

In a less comical effort, Greenpeace is also sending a ship called the Esperanza to the Chukchi Sea, where drilling is planned off Alaska’s North Slope, to conduct scientific research that it says will show that the drilling would seriously endanger the fragile Arctic environment.

Opponents argue that drilling in the Arctic would be reckless because long periods of darkness and powerful flows of ice would make a cleanup of any spill difficult if not impossible. Shell counters that it plans to drill shallow low-pressure wells that are highly unlikely to leak and taking extraordinary precautions to protect wildlife and prepare for a cleanup should an accident happen.

So far, at least, the Obama administration appears to be leaning in favor of Shell’s plan.


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