Oceana Welcomes Shell’s Decision to Postpone Arctic Ocean Drilling Plans

Susan Murray, Oceana’s Pacific Director, issued the following statement in response to the announcement that Shell will not drill in the Beaufort Sea in 2011:

“Oceana welcomes Shell’s decision to cancel plans to drill off Alaska’s north coast in 2011. The continued slate of faulty environmental analyses and permit applications are further evidence that we are not ready to move forward with oil and gas activities in the Arctic, especially in light of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. We lack basic science, preparedness, and any way to ensure accountability.

“Instead of continuing the bull-headed rush forward to drill in the Arctic, we need to take this opportunity to work together. Alaskans, the federal government, and oil companies must not only take this opportunity to look before we leap, but also to determine if it is even safe for us to leap into the remote and unforgiving Arctic. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy must not be repeated in the Arctic. As a community, we need to take the lessons learned from last summer’s disaster to determine if it is possible to safely bring oil and gas activities to the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and, if so, under what conditions.

“We need a plan that ensures we do not move forward with oil and gas activities unless and until they can be conducted without harming the health of the ecosystem or the subsistence way of life. Courts, scientists, and communities have pointed to the lack of basic science in the Arctic Ocean. Now, the U.S. Geological Survey is conducting an analysis that will help answer some of these questions, and the president’s Oil Spill Commission has reiterated the need for better science and spill response capabilities.  Shell’s decision gives us time to finish these processes, perform the basic research and monitoring, and make a full and fair assessment of the preparedness capabilities.

“We hope this decision by Shell will also bring a commitment from them and others in the oil industry to fully review the mistakes that led to the Deepwater Horizon blowout with local communities, the public and the government.  We need a truly open discussion about how to determine if we should move forward with oil and gas activities in the Arctic, and if so, when, where and how.”

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