Juneau, AK—Today, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released the results of its 60-day review of the troubled 2012 Arctic Ocean oil exploration season. Shell’s efforts last year were beset by a series of mishaps, accidents, and near-disasters, and the company has announced it will not seek approvals to drill in 2013. Rather than only shifting blame to Shell, the review should form the basis for a fundamental reassessment of the manner in which DOI makes decisions to allow companies like Shell to exploit public resources.
Oceana’s Deputy Vice President, Pacific, Susan Murray, released the following statement in response to the report:
“By and large, the review told us two things we already knew—companies are woefully unprepared for the remote and unforgiving Alaskan waters, and our government improperly awarded Shell approvals to operate there. The Arctic Ocean is unique and important. Americans deserve better care and stewardship than oil companies or the government have provided.
Shell’s lack of respect and lack of attention to detail repeatedly put lives and our oceans at risk; and the company has violated the most basic protections for clean air and clean water. Holding Shell accountable is necessary, but it is not sufficient.
The Department of the Interior must accept responsibility for the failures that resulted in approvals and permits being granted to a company that was obviously not ready. It is disappointing to see the agency now congratulate itself for coordination and strict standards, rather than take the necessary hard look at how and why it made such remarkable mistakes last year.
The review was just a first step, and the government must now reassess its standards, oversight, and commitment to allowing companies to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Shell’s admission that it cannot drill this summer provides an opportunity for the Department of the Interior to formally revisit regulations and make extensive changes. With stakes this high, there is no longer any excuse for continuing business as usual. The government should suspend activities on leases in the Arctic Ocean until and unless companies prove they can operate safely and without harm to the environment and without harm to opportunities for the subsistence way of life.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 550,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.