U.S. Geological Survey Final Report Reinforces Need for Planning and Precaution in Arctic | Oceana

U.S. Geological Survey Final Report Reinforces Need for Planning and Precaution in Arctic

Press Release Date: June 23, 2011

Location: Juneau, AK


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

Juneau, AK- Today the U.S. Geological Survey released an Arctic study: An Evaluation of the Science Needs to Inform Decisions on Outer Continental Shelf Energy Development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska, commissioned by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in April 2010, about the state of science in the Arctic. The report is an evaluation of the science necessary to inform decisions about offshore energy development in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and is an initial effort to identify missing scientific information in the region. Oceana urges the Obama administration to ensure that science and preparedness guide development decisions in the Arctic. Filling the gaps identified in this report would be a first step in the right direction.

 “The USGS Arctic report has given us all the guide to missing scientific information in the Arctic and where we need to go. It is up to the Obama administration to fill in the gaps identified in this study before decisions are made to allow offshore oil and gas activities or other offshore development to move forward.” said Susan Murray, Senior Director of the Pacific for Oceana. 

The report was originally due out in October 2010, but the release was delayed after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It includes detailed analyses of significant information and recommends comprehensive planning and a commitment to basic scientific information as the best way to inform decisions about industrial development in the Arctic.

“We’ve learned the hard way that accidents happen and that we must know the numbers of birds, whales, seals, fish and clams in the ocean if we hope to know what is lost after a spill,” said Dr. Chris Krenz, Oceana’s Arctic Project Manager. “This report is yet another call for the basic information needed to make good decisions, and we commend the USGS for helping move us toward finding out whether industrial activities should occur and if so, under what conditions.” 

Courts, scientists, and communities have pointed to the lack of basic science in the Arctic Ocean. Now, the USGS has given us an initial guide to answer some of these questions. It is time for the Obama administration to commit to a baseline research and monitoring program, as well as to make a full and fair assessment of the response and clean up capabilities. These steps will move us toward a plan that ensures we do not commit to industrial activities unless and until they can be conducted without harming the health of the Arctic ecosystem or the subsistence way of life.


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