Oceana, ‘If Court Is Right, Then Law Is Broken’
Ninth Circuit decision places Arctic waters, coast, communities at risk
Press Release Date: May 13, 2010
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
“If the Ninth Circuit is right, then the law is broken.” – Mike LeVine, Senior Counsel for Oceana Pacific Oceana is deeply disappointed in today’s ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which concludes that the Minerals Management Service complied with federal law in approving Shell’s plans to move forward with exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas this summer. Oceana and other Alaska Native, community, and conservation organizations sought better science, adequate response and rescue capabilities, and an accurate analysis of the potential risks. The decision to move forward was made before the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing what will likely be one of the country’s worst ecological disasters with tragic economic impacts for many of those affected. Conditions in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are remote and unforgiving; they are much less hospitable than in the Gulf, and response capabilities for a similar blowout are essentially non-existent.
If the Ninth Circuit is right, then the law is broken. Oceana is urging the president to halt all offshore exploration drilling until this hole in the law is fixed. The Gulf tragedy is a stark reminder that we need better science and accountability before making decisions about drilling. The decisions to allow drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas were made using the same standards and reviews that led to the Gulf accident. We cannot risk the Arctic Ocean.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar must reevaluate approvals for exploration drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The Obama Administration’s investigation into the Deepwater Horizon tragedy is a good first step, and we must have a cautious, science-based approach to any oil and gas activities in the Arctic to ensure another awful tragedy does not occur. In light of the little we know about the region and the lack of response and rescue capabilities, it is unwise and shortsighted to gamble with our Arctic marine ecosystems.