Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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February 17, 2012

Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x 102

Shell Oil Plan to Drill off Arctic Coast Advances

The Obama administration today approved an oil spill response plan for Shell's proposal to drill in the Chukchi Sea, putting the company one step closer to drilling in the pristine Arctic waters of the Polar Bear Seas. Shell wants to start drilling in the Arctic as soon as this summer.

The Chukchi is the Arctic's westernmost sea. It supports approximately one-tenth of the world's remaining polar bear population and is an important migration route for endangered bowhead and beluga whales.

In response Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement.

"We are deeply disappointed in the decision to approve Shell's oil spill response plan. The risk to fragile natural systems and native communities is clear. There remain significant questions about whether spill prevention, containment and response systems are equipped to work in challenging Arctic conditions. There also remain huge knowledge gaps in scientific understanding about life in the Arctic waters and the potential impacts of drilling.

Big Oil's dismal spill record belies their continued assurance of safety. The unproven technology proposed in Shell's plan will not protect the irreplaceable scenery and wildlife of the Polar Bear Seas. Shell and other oil companies should not be allowed to move forward with risky, dangerous plans to drill in this pristine area.

We should not entrust the future of one of our last wild frontiers, and the communities that rely on it for subsistence, to Big Oil. President Obama should permanently protect the wonders of the Polar Bear Seas, not open them to drilling that will only deepen our addiction to oil."