For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Expert contact: Marissa Knodel, (202) 222-0724,
Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744,

Obama Administration Moves Shell Closer to Arctic Drilling

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the nonlethal, incidental, and unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walrus that result from Shell’s exploratory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea. The agency gave authorization despite finding information gaps regarding walrus and polar bear behavior in offshore environments, the immediate and long-term responses of these animals to drilling operations, and the subsistence hunting activities of several Native villages. With this authorization, Shell only requires one more drilling permit from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to begin drilling in the Chukchi Sea in less than a month.

Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:

Today’s authorization takes us one step closer to letting Shell turn the pristine American Arctic Ocean into an oil and gas sacrifice zone. Apparently the Obama administration finds nothing wrong with risking the health and safety of the people and wildlife that call the Chukchi Sea home for Shell’s reckless pursuit of oil. The closer the Shell rigs encroach upon the Chukchi Sea, the further away the Obama administration retreats from its promise to leave a strong climate legacy. With a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill, 100 percent chance of climate disruption, and the inevitable disturbance of wildlife, this is not the climate leadership the American public expects or deserves.    


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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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