Interior opens Alaskan waters to Shell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Department of the Interior issued a Record of Decision affirming 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 entire Chukchi Sea Program Area is now open for oil and gas development, and the Department of the Interior plans to open an official review of Shell’s drilling plans for this summer.
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 reckless pursuit of oil. Shell’s dismal record of safety violations and accidents, coupled with the inability to clean up or contain an oil spill in the remote, dangerous Arctic waters, equals a disaster waiting to happen. Alaska, beware: with a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill and a 100 percent chance of environmental degradation from drilling-related activities, today’s decision foreshadows dark days to come for the state warming twice as fast as the rest of the nation.
From unlawfully auctioning Lease Sale 193 in the first place, to its rushed and flawed environmental analysis that ignored hundreds of thousands of public comments, the Department of the Interior appears hell-bent on sacrificing the Arctic Ocean to Big Oil’s greed. The federal government should be ashamed: the American public deserve a safe and healthy Arctic environment for present and future generations to enjoy, not a toxic legacy.