In a letter dated July 14, 2014, Shell appears to request that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) bend its rules to allow an extension of the 10-year term for the company’s oil and gas leases in the U.S.
- Australian scientists are criticizing the government’s Reef 2050 long-term sustainability plan, citing that it’s “inadequate to achieve the goal of restoring or even maintaining the diminished outstanding universal value of the reef.” The Australian Academy of Science says the proposal doesn’t address greenhouse gas emissions, even though government assessments found climate change to be the biggest threat to the reef. The Guardian
In September, a federal judge found BP’s negligent and reckless behavior to be at fault for the 2010 BP oil spill, which killed 11 people and spewed over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier this year, Oceana released a report, “Frozen Future: Shell’s ongoing gamble in the U.S. Arctic,” that detailed Royal Dutch Shell’s involvement with Arctic offshore drilling. This magazine feature takes a close look at this report, and asks ten questions investors should be asking to determine if drilling in the Arctic is best for shareholders.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it will list 20 new species of coral as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, largely because of climate change. Found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, these corals are also threatened by overfishing, runoff, and coastal construction. The Associated Press
There’s no question that drilling for oil in Arctic waters is risky business. Twenty five years after the Exxon Valdez tanker hit a reef in 1989, causing the second largest oil spill in U.S. history, wildlife and economies in Alaska’s Prince William Sound are still recovering. And in 2012, as part of an attempt at offshore oil exploration activity in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas, Shell’s Kulluk oil drilling rig ran aground near Kodiak Island.
Shell and other oil companies are focused on the Arctic Ocean as a potential new frontier for energy development. Despite the lack of adequate baseline information and any proven technology for responding to a spill in icy Arctic waters, United States government regulators have repeatedly made decisions to allow leasing and exploration activities and have granted necessary approvals. The company’s push to drill and government acquiescence put at risk coastal communities and vibrant ecosystems filled with iconic animals such as bowhead whales, walrus, and polar bears.
In December of 2012, Shell’s Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, ran aground during a winter storm. Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard released the results of their investigation into the incident, criticizing Shell for poor management and decision-making. In a press release, the Coast Guard states that the “most significant factor” in the grounding was “the inadequate assessment and management of risks.”
For the past five years, the oil industry has kept up a relentless campaign to drill in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean. Oil exploration and drilling would put this exceptional ecosystem at great risk from a disastrous (and inevitable) oil spill, greatly harming marine life, fish species, and coastal communities.
An ice-ridden, remote, ecologically-rich, and picturesque region of Alaska’s Arctic will remain that way, at least for 2014. On January 30, Royal Dutch Shell’s new CEO, Ben van Beurden, made the announcement that sent a wave of praise ricocheting throughout the conservation community: Shell will not pursue offshore oil drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean this year.