Arctic Ocean – 1; Shell Oil – 0

           Photo: Florian Schulz

It’s been an amazing fight. And, thanks to the efforts of Alaska Wilderness League and many others, oil companies have abandoned drilling for oil in America’s Arctic Ocean – at least until next year.

Shell Oil announced, Monday, that it is drastically scaling back its oil drilling operation this year in the Arctic, focusing instead on preparations for next year’s drilling season. This move happened after its oil spill containment dome suffered damage during sea trials which occurred off the comparatively mild coast of Washington and not in the extreme, sea ice conditions of the Arctic. As predicted, Shell’s untested, unproven cleanup and safety equipment failed – even outside of the Arctic’s extreme conditions.

Alaska Wilderness League, and their partners, will continue to fight corporate giants like Shell Oil who remain intent to despoil the few natural treasures we have left. Soon, we will be asked once again to raise our voice in solidarity with our Inupiat allies on America’s Arctic coast, as the multifaceted, far-reaching effort to keep the Arctic healthy and whole continues. We will be asked to continue to fight until Arctic conservation eclipses any and all Arctic development.

But right now, it is time to celebrate. Alaska Wilderness League is thankful to its partners and supporters; for their letters, calls, commitment and dedication to keeping the Arctic healthy.

Following is a statement from Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League:

“People have been fighting Mother Nature since the dawn of time – the fight is crystallized in Shell’s desire to drill in the harsh and unpredictable climate of America’s Arctic Ocean. And, as we have seen today, Shell is losing.

Shell has promised over and over again to deliver the best technology and the safest drilling program in the world, and has thrown billions at the problem. And, earlier in August, Secretary Salazar promised to hold Shell’s ‘feet to fire,’ yet all we have seen is incompetence and excuses. We are relieved to see that Shell is not moving forward to drill in hydrocarbon zones, however the administration should not be allowing any drilling to go forward, without all oil spill response and safety equipment in place.

Shell’s list of foibles continues – from its drilling ship running aground, to missing the mark on meeting its air permits, to drilling only one day in the Arctic Ocean before a 30 by 12 mile iceberg barreled down on its operation – Shell has shown that it is unprepared to drill, yet the administration has shown that it will give Shell any excuse it needs to move forward with its drilling operations.

The Arctic Ocean, where icebergs can be as tall as apartment buildings, 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."

To read more about Shell’s abandoned Alaska offshore drilling efforts, click here.

To learn more about the Alaska Wilderness League, click here.