Let’s Finish What We Started

Have you seen our new video? We worked with Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Fiore to raise awareness about Shell’s abysmal past performance and to rally the country to stop Shell before it can do more damage in “Deadliest Crude: Risking It All for Black Gold and Green Profits.”

Drilling rig crashes. A containment dome “crushed like a beer can.” Countless violations of safety and environmental laws. So many foibles – we couldn’t even make this stuff up! We can’t trust Shell in the Arctic, yet the oil giant is back at it again. Shell is preparing and staging equipment for a potential 2015 return to the Arctic Ocean – a dangerous proposition.

We only need to look at Shell’s 2012-2013 drilling season, the harshness and uncertainty of the Arctic climate, the iconic wildlife that calls the Arctic home, and the lack of scientific information about the fragile Arctic Ocean to understand why Shell or any oil company shouldn’t be allowed to drill in the Arctic. We’ve launched this video at a critical time for America’s Arctic Ocean. The Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management is reworking a flawed environmental assessment and will soon ask for comments from the American public. The fact is that no company is ready to drill in the Arctic and it is irresponsible and reckless to do so. America’s Arctic Ocean is a sensitive ecosystem, which supports some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species.

Which I’ve been privileged enough to see just recently – firsthand.

In September, Kristen Miller, the League’s Conservation Director, and I were in Kaktovik and Barrow, Alaska – otherwise known as the “Top of the World.” It is hard to describe Barrow, the farthest North American city of 23 square miles with a population of just 4,000, all living right on the Arctic Ocean. This small community is committed to maintaining their subsistence lifestyle, but its people are being forced to consider potential oil and gas development proposed by Shell Oil. The area includes some of our nation’s most iconic species like the polar bear (I saw 15!), walrus, seals and the endangered bowhead whale, as well as the scary and real impacts of climate change – receding sea ice, permafrost melting, flooding and Arctic communities that need to be relocated.

This summer the National Climate Assessment found that Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation. Like thousands of others, I joined the People’s Climate March in New York City. I was there and part of the Team Arctic contingent that was organized by Greenpeace and the League. We were joined by an amazing array of spirited and passionate marchers that spanned 21 blocks and totaled more than 400,000 people. Our hopes were high, as we marched to represent our commitment to finding a climate solution for future generations – one that includes protecting the Arctic.

The time has come to address climate change and one way to do this is to stop drilling in our special places. President Obama has the ability to make an immediate impact by taking risky Arctic Ocean drilling off the table. Inaction will only move us further away from progress and irreparably damage this important ecosystem.

I hope you watch to see why the Arctic Ocean is too important to turn over to the clumsy crew at Shell and help us tell President Obama to protect the Arctic from Shell’s bungling. Let’s band together, continue what we have started at the People’s Climate March and make sure that Shell doesn’t get another shot this summer.