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A Drilling Dream Deferred: Shell Suspends Arctic Drilling Program

Greenpeace: 'The responsible decision is to make Arctic drilling off limits, forever.'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

To the cheers of environmental groups, Shell announced on Wednesday it was suspending its 2013 Arctic drilling program following a mishap-laden year in which its "ships have caught fire, run aground, lost control and become the subject of criminal investigation."

"This is the first thing Shell’s done right in Alaska—calling it quits," stated Phil Radford, Greenpeace USA Executive Director. (Photo: Greenpeace Switzerland / flickr) "This is the first thing Shell’s done right in Alaska—calling it quits," stated Phil Radford, Greenpeace USA Executive Director.

"Shell was supposed to be the best of the best, but the long list of mishaps and near-disasters is a clear indication even the 'best' companies can’t succeed in Arctic drilling."

Michael LeVine, Pacific Senior Counsel for ocean conservation group Oceana, adds, "Our government officials must figure out how and why they granted approvals to a demonstrably unprepared company and make the necessary changes to ensure that this never happens again."

There's only one way to make sure this doesn't happen again, says Greenpeace.

"Drilling in the Arctic will propel us towards catastrophic climate change, so it needs to end now," said Radford.

"Secretary Salazar and President Obama gave drilling a chance; now the responsible decision is to make Arctic drilling off limits, forever."

Doing so "will not only protect the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the communities that depend on it, it will send a powerful signal to other nations that it’s time to kick our addiction to fossil fuels," added Radford.

However, Shell indicates it has no plans to throw in the towel for its drilling plans in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, calling the suspension merely a "pause" and adding that it "remains committed to building an Arctic exploration program."

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