The Only Safe Arctic Drilling is No Arctic Drilling

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced final safety regulations today for any future industrial activities on the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf.

Following is a statement by Niel Lawrence, NRDC’s Alaska Director:

“Where we drill, we spill. The Arctic is harsh, fragile, remote, and pristine. We can’t contain or clean up the oil from a blowout in these waters. And we can’t protect them from the devastation that would bring. That’s why no regulations will make Arctic drilling safe.  And these regulations, though better than the last ones, require no more than what Shell operated under in its disastrous 2014 drill effort.

“Instead of pretending that new regs will end the horrific risks, BOEM should be recommending that President Obama use his statutory authority to take Arctic drilling off the table forever.

“At the same time, we must permanently protect key Arctic marine habitats from other damaging industrial activities as well, including commercial fishing and shipping.”


  • Lawrence’s Oct. 2, 2105 blog “Shell in Retreat” recounts many of the risks of Arctic Ocean drilling, and Shell’s failures in the face of them.
  • Franz Matzner, director of NRDC’s Beyond Oil initiative, penned a July 5 blog highlighting the parade of oil companies that in recent months have relinquished oil and gas leases in the Arctic or otherwise abandoned Arctic drilling efforts.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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