Chukchi lease analysis predicts large Arctic oil spills
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea in Northwest Alaska. The federal government unlawfully sold the oil and gas lease to oil companies, including Shell, in 2008 when it underestimated the risks of a large oil spill. The revised analysis found a 75 percent chance that one or more large oil spills could occur and that many species of marine wildlife would face substantial injury and mortality in the face of an oil spill. Despite these risks, the federal government is prepared to offer 29.4 million acres, the entire Chukchi Sea Program Area, for oil and gas development.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:
It is unconscionable that the federal government is willing to risk the health and safety of the people and wildlife that live near and within the Chukchi Sea for Shell’s profits. There is no such thing as safe or responsible drilling in the Arctic Ocean — Shell’s record of recklessness and the federal government’s own environmental analysis show that approval of Lease Sale 193 would be unsafe, dangerous and irresponsible. Drilling in the Chukchi Sea would place the people and wildlife there under serious threat of oil spills, pollution and climate disruption. With a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill and no effective method for cleaning up or containing it, allowing companies like Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster. Alaska is already warming twice as fast as the rest of the nation, negatively impacting communities and the resources upon which they depend. The last thing Alaskans need is another toxic legacy like the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is shamefully ignoring the catastrophic impacts of opening the Chukchi Sea to oil and gas drilling. The agency took less than two months to consider hundreds of thousands of public comments submitted last December. The result is a flawed analysis that relies on outdated data and fails to asses the climate impacts of producing oil from the lease. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management owes the American public a duty to seriously consider the environmental and health impacts of Arctic drilling and deny approval of Lease Sale 193.