26 Politicians Who, Unlike Obama, Got It Right on Arctic Drilling

by Annie Leonard

August 18, 2015

President Obama isn't the only political leader who's taken a strong stance on Arctic drilling—and thankfully not everyone agrees with him.

Shell Oil Exploration Vessels at Unalaska

Royal Dutch Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

© Mark Meyer / Greenpeace

I’ve written quite a bit about the inspirational stories of the activists fighting Shell’s dangerous Arctic drilling plans. These activists and the millions of supporters along with them have made so much noise that drilling in the Arctic has become a topic that local, state and national politicians must address. Governors, legislators, members of Congress, mayors and even presidential hopefuls from President Obama’s own party are already weighing in against Arctic drilling. We have the voices of the #ShellNo movement to thank for that.

We’ve collected some of our favorite quotes, tweets and statements from all kinds of elected officials. I hope they serve as a reminder that when enough  people stand up and speak out, our politicians have to listen. With all of these elected officials opposed to Arctic drilling, the only question is why hasn’t President Obama stopped Shell in its tracks?

Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien, detained as part of the Seattle kayaktivist blockade of Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig:

“This attempt to get more oil in the Arctic—just like Keystone pipeline or the Bakken oil fields—is one of these game changers that puts so much more oil in the system that will cause catastrophic climate change and that will impact billions of people around the planet.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray:

“If it was up to me, there would be no place for Arctic offshore oil drilling equipment in Seattle.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

“I cannot in good faith support this new oil and gas development given the slow and insufficient progress that countries have made to date in limiting carbon pollution.”

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, the day after a Shell icebreaker left his city after undergoing repairs:

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and five other like-minded Senators launched their “Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2015” saying:

“The ecosystem in the Arctic is too fragile and the ability to respond to a spill in this region is nonexistent. Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is the height of irresponsibility. We need to put it off limits, permanently.”

Senator Merkley then called on Shell to ditch its irresponsible drilling plans:

United States Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-3rd/OR):

“Many people are concerned about the protesters that are hanging from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland. No matter how you feel about the protests, we should all get behind their call to stop any drilling for oil in the Arctic.”

18 United States Senators:

“Opening development on a new fossil fuel reservoir in the Arctic not only puts the natural resources, ecosystems, and the dependent communities at risk, it also contradicts the President’s Climate Action Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change. It is an unacceptable and irresponsible decision.”

Presidential candidate and United States Senator Bernie Sanders:

Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

Presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley:

“I would reject projects like Keystone XL, drilling off our coasts and in the Arctic and Alaska.”

And last, but not least, former Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore:

I think Arctic drilling is insane.”


I couldn’t agree more—it is insane. We cannot reconcile the path our climate is on with plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. They are incompatible, and it is up to President Obama to stop Shell and save our planet.

Take action today. Tell President Obama to keep Arctic oil in the ground. 

Annie Leonard

By Annie Leonard

Annie Leonard is the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. Leonard began her career at Greenpeace in 1988 and has returned to help the organization inspire and mobilize millions of people to take action to create a more sustainable future together. She is based in San Francisco.

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