Oceana Supports Commission Call for Science, Preparedness, and Community Involvement in Arctic | Oceana

Oceana Supports Commission Call for Science, Preparedness, and Community Involvement in Arctic

Press Release Date: January 11, 2011

Location: Juneau, AK


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

The Obama administration’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its final report today.  In addition to describing the systemic problems that lead to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the report makes recommendations about preventing such a spill in the future, including specific calls for better science and management in the Arctic.  Oceana urges the Obama administration to follow these recommendations and to ensure that sound science and preparedness guide decisions about whether to allow offshore drilling in the Arctic and, if so, under what conditions.

“Science, preparedness, and responsibility should guide decisions about Arctic resources,” said Oceana Pacific Director, Susan Murray. “This report reiterates that, without better science, oversight, and community involvement, we simply cannot even being to address the enormous risks of drilling in the unforgiving Arctic Ocean environment.” 

The Commission’s report and recommendations call into serious question approvals for exploration drilling in the Beaufort Sea and leases awarded in the Chukchi Sea.  Those approvals have been subject to court and administrative agency appeals as well as public outcry.  BOEMRE is presently conducting additional analysis of Shell’s application for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea.  It has previously approved that drilling based on the clearly erroneous assumption that a blowout could not occur and despite significant missing information about the marine ecosystem. 

“Courts, communities, scientists, and now the President’s own commission have told the federal government that better science and preparedness are needed,” said Michael LeVine, Pacific Senior Counsel for Oceana.  “The message could not be clearer:  we are not prepared to make decisions, let alone drill, in Arctic waters.”

Currently there is no proven method of cleaning up an oil spill in Arctic conditions; there are no trained personnel or equipment in the region capable of carrying out an effective response plan; and there is a clear lack of basic scientific information about the ocean ecosystem.  The vibrancy and biodiversity of the Arctic ecosystem depends on how we manage future development.  Oceana will continue to work towards ensuring a productive and sustainable Arctic community and ecosystem. 


Oceana’s team of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America, Europe, South and Central America. Please visit http://na.Oceana.org.