Environmental Risks with Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Development off Alaska’s North Slope
In August 2012, Royal Dutch Shell Oil (Shell) plans to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northern coast. This paper argues that drilling and related industrial activity would create an unacceptable risk of irreparable damage to this unique part of the planet and should be postponed until comprehensive research can be performed and a credible system for responding to spills is put into place. More specifically, there are at eight good reasons to call a time out:
1. The oil industry has a long history of spills on the North Slope, and the likelihood of future spills is high.
2. Cleaning up oil spills in the Arctic Ocean would present immense challenges.
3. The Arctic Coast, running along the biological heartof the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is unique.
4. Too little is known about Arctic ecosystems to predict response to spills.
5. Shell's offshore oil and gas activities threaten vulnerable wildlife.
6. Damage to wildlife and the ecosystem undermine Inupiat quality of living and culture.
7. The region is already compromised by climate change.
8. Arctic drilling will create more greenhouse gases (both through production and the eventual use of hydrocarbons) at a time when we are trying to reduce such emissions.
last revised 8/16/2012
Get Updates and Alerts
NRDC Gets Top Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs
- Charity Navigator awards NRDC its 4-star top rating.
- Worth magazine named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities.
- NRDC meets the highest standards of the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.
- Q&A: Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns on National Parks
- Ken Burn spoke to OnEarth about his motivation for his new documentary series on America's national parks.
- In the Canadian Boreal Forest, a Conservation Ethic at Work
- After fighting successfully for years to keep destructive logging, hydropower and mining projects out of their traditional territory, the people of Poplar River are now working to secure permanent protection for their boreal forest homeland.