Yesterday afternoon US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Obama administration's plans to lead the world further down the path of Arctic destruction by continuing to feed our addiction to oil. Despite the enormous opposition, the administration will hold further sales for leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and in what we can only hope wont become his Titanic moment, Salazar boasted that theres not going to be an oil spill. Arctic drilling, he went on, is simply another step in our all of the above energy strategy.
Remember, that just weeks before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, President Obama said, oil rigs today generally don't cause spills.
More "generally spill free" drilling and an all of the above energy strategy is not what the world needs, especially when we have the technology and the expertise to move forward with a renewable energy strategy that can take us sustainably into the future.
What Salazar's remarks make clear is that Shell's drilling in the Arctic is just the beginning of this new Arctic oil rush, a process that will open up one of the last pristine places on earth to destructive industrialization. We've used up much of the easily accessible oil on earth, and so now the oil industry is moving into the Arctic.
Unlike Secretary Salazar, we're not willing to buy in to Shell and the US government's Trust Us" safety plan. Every drilling operation in the world has had spills big and small.
Big Oil and this administration are treating the American public like children if they expect us to believe that an industrial drilling operation can happen without a single spill. As Holly Harris, a staff attorney with Earthjustice, told the New York Times,
No oil company has ever come close to cleaning up 90 percent of spilled oil in the open ocean. The administration is hoping for the best but not preparing for the worst.
Shell is being deliberately secretive about what they're doing--as evidenced by their failure to give their shareholders an estimate of the financial impact of a spill, as well as their decision to keep information about marine mammals private, and their refusal to allow observers to monitor their spill simulations. They have something to hide, and the US government is complicit. We need independent scientists and researchers to document what's at stake in the Arctic, which is why we're traveling to the Arctic right now with a scientific advisory board in place to work with us documenting what we find in the Chukchi this summer.
Unlike Shell and Salazar, we're on a #SaveTheArctic mission, one that you can join by signing our petition to create a global sanctuary in the high Arctic, and by following me and the crew of the Esperanza as we sail to the Chukchi this summer to confront Arctic destruction.
Jackie Dragon is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. Jackie has been campaigning to protect important places in the ocean since 2008. Her current focus is on the Bering Sea, where she fights to conserve the largest submarine canyons in the world from destructive industrial fishing practices.