YOU Did It! Shell Abandons Arctic Drilling.

by April Glaser

September 28, 2015

Today Shell announced plans to abandon its Arctic oil drilling operations. This is huge.

Shell Bridge Blockade Portland

The Shell-leased icebreaker MSV Fennica approaches the St. Johns Bridge, where climbers under the bridge are attempting to prevent the Fennica from passing under the bridge to join Shell's Arctic drilling fleet.

© Steve Dipaola / Greenpeace

From the kayaktivists of Seattle to the activists in Portland who — suspended in mid-air — blocked Shell’s ship, to the millions of people all over the world who signed petitions, held signs, shared stories and helped organize for real environmental justice, this is YOUR victory. Thank you.

Shell claims that the amount of oil it’s been able to find isn’t worth the high costs of what has been one of the most dangerous and expensive projects in the history of fossil fuel extraction. The company has already spent upwards of $7 billion trying to find oil in the Arctic, but the environmental costs of Arctic oil are even higher.

President Obama’s own administration estimates that there would be a 75 percent chance of a disastrous oil spill if Shell got what it originally wanted. The Arctic acts as the world’s air conditioner by keeping the oceans cool by reflecting sunlight off sea ice. But that sea ice is melting, and the region is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Climate change in the Arctic is already leading to dead walruses washing up on the Alaskan coast, polar bears starving, and mosquito swarms getting so huge that they have become deadly for Caribou. Drilling for and burning more fossil fuels is the exact wrong response to climate change.

The Financial Times reports that Shell has privately admitted that it didn’t expect so much public opposition. And in Shell’s own statement on why the company decided to abandon its Arctic drilling operations, the company cites a “challenging regulatory environment” as one key reason for halting its search for Arctic oil. We challenged them.

Shell is used to breezing through important environmental regulatory processes without a scratch, but this time people were watching. All year comments poured into the Department of Interior, as millions of people pled to President Obama’s administration to pull the brakes on Shell’s drilling.

It wasn’t the President who showed real climate leadership here. It was you.

Together, you turned what the oil industry and the Obama administration hoped would be a small business story into front page headlines. Together, we demonstrated that people have the power to fight companies and governments who consistently value corporate profits over the health of our planet.

The fight isn’t over. President Obama’s own Department of Interior recently announced that 10.2 billion tons of coal on federal lands would likely be available for sale soon. Extracting and burning fossil fuels is not the answer to runaway climate change.

Let’s turn this victory into a global resistance against fossil fuels. Are you in?

April Glaser

By April Glaser

April is a mobilization specialist for Greenpeace USA's online team, focusing on the Arctic campaign. Prior to Greenpeace, April was an organizer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she worked on a wide range of digital rights issues; her writing has appeared in Slate and Wired, to name a few.

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