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Over One Million Say Shell No! to Arctic Drilling

Common Dreams staff

“President Obama has a small window to stop Shell from spoiling the Arctic, and that’s exactly what people across the country are asking him to do,” said Miyoko Sakashita. (photo of a previous action by Chris Eichler via

Environmental groups delivered over a million signatures to the White House today demanding President Obama stop Shell's plans for oil drilling in the Arctic.

The groups highlighted the potential disastrous impact the drilling would have on Arctic wildlife including polar bears, caribou, walrus, seals and eiders, all already impacted by global warming.

“Shell’s ships are already on the way to drill in the icy Arctic waters, putting human life, polar bears and whales at risk in harsh, stormy conditions,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which worked with the Sierra Club, the Alaska Wilderness League and other groups to deliver the petitions. “President Obama has a small window to stop Shell from spoiling the Arctic, and that’s exactly what people across the country are asking him to do.”

Shell's plans for exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas are now under consideration by the Obama administration, which, if OKed, would allow drilling to begin this summer.

Cindy Shogan, Executive Director of  Alaska Wilderness League, also highlighted the risks of the plan for drilling in the extreme environment:  "With no plan to clean up a spill and inadequate scientific information, we should not be risking our one and only Arctic with aggressive, risky drilling. The risks are huge – at this point, drilling in the Arctic Ocean is tantamount to ‘Mission Impossible.’"

"There is no proven way to clean up an oil spill in these extreme conditions.""The Arctic Ocean is prone to hurricane-force storms, 20-foot swells, sea ice up to 25 feet thick, sub- zero temperatures and months-long darkness. There is no proven way to clean up an oil spill in these extreme conditions. What’s more, the Arctic has extremely limited infrastructure (there are no roads or deep water ports and only a handful of small airports) and the nearest Coast Guard station is 1,000 miles away," stated Shogan.

“We should not be gambling with the future of the Arctic Ocean. Oil drilling in this pristine wilderness means risking oil spills that can’t be cleaned up, and it means more dirty fuels adding to climate change — both of which threaten to destroy the Arctic forever,” added Sakashita.

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Owly Images

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Center for Biological Diversity: Say No to Destructive Drilling in the Arctic

This summer, exploratory drilling will begin in the Arctic Ocean unless we stop it. The Arctic must be off limits to oil drilling, for the simple reason that a spill would be impossible to clean up there. The Arctic is home to polar bears, walruses, bowhead whales and other endangered and highly sensitive wildlife; oil drilling in its remote, ice-choked waters would carry unacceptably high risks of environmental destruction and loss of life.

President Obama has given approval to Shell to drill for oil this summer in the vulnerable Arctic. In hopes of uncovering new sources of dirty fossil fuels, Arctic drilling could also unleash more than 11 billion tons of carbon pollution -- making it ever more difficult to stave off devastating climate change.

We have a powerful opportunity now to stop drilling before it spoils the Arctic and its wildlife. Take action now to help us send 1 million messages to Obama asking him to protect one of America's last, best wildernesses and stop Shell's reckless drilling plans.

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Related: From International Business Times, April 3, 2012

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