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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

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