Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

"We are, unfortunately, no longer capable of being surprised by either Shell’s efforts to skirt rules or the company’s inability to recognize its own role in failing to complete planned exploration activities in Arctic waters," stated Oceana's Susan Murray. (Photo: Greenpeace Switzerland/flickr/cc)

Shell Wants Five More Years to Carry Out Arctic Plunder

Oil giant asked Interior Department 'to skirt rules,' get more time after it spent fruitless $6 billion

Andrea Germanos

Shell has urged the Obama administration to give it five more years to fulfill its quest for Arctic oil, citing the $6 billion the oil giant has already invested in the effort and circumstances it said were beyond its control.

Shell made the request in a letter (pdf) dated July 2014 and made public Monday by ocean conservation group Oceana.

Peter Slaiby, Vice President of Shell Alaska, writes in the letter to the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE) that "despite Shell's best efforts and demonstrated diligence, circumstances beyond Shell's control have prevented, and are continuing to prevent, Shell from completing even the first exploration well" in either of its Chukchi or Beaufort Sea lease holdings.

"Circumstances Shell could not have anticipated at the time it acquired its leases significantly impede Shell's utilization of its lease rights to proceed with exploration and development of its Alaska leases before they are due to expire."

Among the unanticipated circumstances Shell cites are lack of regulatory-compliant and Arctic-ready rigs, shortened operating windows, legal challenges, and the need to accomodate Native community whaling activities.

Developing the area's reserves "is plainly in the national interest," Shell's letter states.

The oil giant urges the BSSE to grant the extended time now, as waiting until the current lease period ends in 2017 could cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in needless expenditures, the letter states.

The letter does not include reference to the company's series of mishaps which environmental groups said was indication of the risks of drilling in the fragile area.

The letter states that "the few short annual drilling seasons that remain are inadequate to make up for the many years that Shell has lost largely due to circumstances beyond Shells' control."

Oceana said Shell was asking for unwarranted rule-bending.

Susan Murray, Oceana’s deputy vice president, Pacific, said in a statement: "Though this letter is somewhat shocking in its tone and request, we are, unfortunately, no longer capable of being surprised by either Shell’s efforts to skirt rules or the company’s inability to recognize its own role in failing to complete planned exploration activities in Arctic waters."

"Shell spent billions of dollars fully aware of the risks to that investment, and the government should not bend the rules to allow the company to continue business as usual. Shell deserves no special treatment and, to the contrary, has a track record of irresponsible choices that warrants close scrutiny and the highest standards," Murray stated.

Shell's justifications for extra time "are incomplete and, at best, disingenuous," she stated, adding that they "are further indication that the company cannot or will not do what is necessary to operate safely in the Arctic Ocean."

Greenpeace stated earlier this year: "Shell’s decision to gamble on the Arctic was a mistake of epic proportions." The environment group added that Shell's continued barriers and blunders should be a sign to other oil companies "that this region is too remote, too hostile and too iconic to be worth exploring."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo