Drilling in the Arctic Ocean makes no sense. The signs are everywhere. Last week Russia announced a moratorium on drilling in its Arctic waters, our colleagues at the World Wildlife Fund report. At the same time, Norway’s Eni ran smack into the dangerous realities facing every company that’s tried to tap Arctic oil, after which the Nordic state to put a pause on its operations. Across the globe, the public is standing up and calling for an end to drilling that threatens our climate.
The facts just don’t line up for Arctic drilling. If oil companies were to start drilling now the oil wouldn’t come to market for decades, well past the point when we need to transition to clean power. Our atmosphere can’t bear the carbon contained under its waters, and the sensitive, unique, and challenging environment leaves little margin for error.
And economic institutions from the Bank of England to the insurer Allianz are warning that investments in long-term fossil fuel extraction—especially in high risk areas—is fool hardy at best.
The time is ripe for President Obama to once again show global leadership and declare the U.S. Arctic permanently off-limits to oil and gas drilling. Here are the top 5 reasons why:
Proven fossil fuel supplies already far exceed what the science says we can afford to burn. To benefit the climate, Arctic’s unproven reserves must be left unburned—forever. It is not enough to leave these fossil fuels undeveloped for only five years.
Clean, Not Dirty Energy Must Fuel the Future
Oil production in the Arctic and Atlantic—if feasible at all—would take decades to reach the pump, arriving after the transition to cleaner fuels must have already taken place.
Where There’s Drilling, There’s Spilling
A major spill in either the Arctic or Atlantic would be devastating, putting the wildlife, communities, and established industries that depend on healthy oceans at grave risk.
Taking the Arctic off the table for good would demonstrate the importance of no longer dedicating national resources to future fossil fuel development. In contrast, if world governments continue to flood markets with fossil fuels it will encourage investment in polluting energy instead of clean energy solutions.
Power of the Pen
The President has authority under longstanding law to withdraw these publicly owned seas from drilling. He can help protect the climate and ensure the fate of our spectacular, undeveloped Arctic oceans is not left to an uncertain future.