Arctic Oil Drilling
As if the impacts of climate change weren’t enough, big fossil fuel companies have now set their sites on exploiting the oil that lies deep in Arctic waters.
Drilling for oil in the Arctic is a bad idea for people, wildlife and the planet. And yet major companies like Shell and Exxon are making aggressive moves to usher in a new “oil rush” in the Arctic. In some places it’s already begun. Russian oil giant Gazprom has already begun producing oil from the Arctic from the ocean north of Russia.
Here’s why we can’t let them continue.
When We Drill, We Spill
The long history of oil spills around the world has made one thing clear: the only way to prevent an oil spill is to keep it in the ground
Fragile Arctic ice and tricky weather conditions make a spill even more likely. In a review of Shell’s plans to drill in the Alaskan Arctic, the U.S. Department of the Interior found that there’s a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill if indeed Shell can find oil and produce it. Hundreds of smaller spills would be virtually guaranteed.
How Do You Clean up an Arctic Oil Spill?
No oil company has ever successfully cleaned up a major spill.
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Exxon spent $2 billion trying to clean up and recovered less than 7 percent of the oil spilled.
In 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout spilled up to 200 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico. Of that, only about 8 percent was recovered or burned off.
Extreme conditions—including icy waves that reach 50 feet—make response in the event of an Arctic spill even more difficult. The nearest response stations to Arctic drilling sites are located thousands of miles away. Shell, for example, estimates it would take six days just reach the site of a spill at its proposed drilling location.
Keep It in the Ground
For the sake of the people and animals that call the Arctic home—not to mention the global climate—we must keep Arctic oil in the ground.
It’s the only way to prevent a devastating spill and end our dependence on fossil fuels.