In an interview with The Guardian, former Vice President Al Gore made clear his disapproval with the current President’s stance on allowing companies like Shell oil to drill in the Arctic. “I think the Deepwater Horizon spill was warning enough.” Gore said. The conditions are so hostile for human activity there. I think it’s a mistake to drill for oil in the Arctic. I think that ought to be banned.”
Though Gore commends President Obama for his extensive commitment to addressing climate change in his second term, he finds fault with the Obama administration’s over-accommodation of the fossil fuel industry, saying, “on the fossil fuel side, I would certainly be happier if he was not allowing so much activity, like the Arctic drilling permit and the large amounts of coal extracted from public lands.”
The US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the Arctic could contain as much as 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas, and 13% of its undiscovered oil. The reward is tempting; it’s all a matter of whether the risk is worth the reward.
In their Environmental Assessment, performed in review of the planned Arctic drilling, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has reported the potential threat to the environment as minimal. However, chronic problems continue to plague the drilling operation, causing many to lose faith in the safety of the operation and press for its cancellation. MSNBC reports:
“The Obama administration seems to be leaving the fate of the Arctic up to Shell this summer,” said Travis Nichols, an organizer for Greenpeace. “But that doesn’t mean the future of the Arctic has to be in Shell’s hands.”
Arctic drilling was in the news last month when Shell’s rig Polar Pioneer was impeded trying to leave the port of Seattle, WA by “kayaktivists”: environmental activists who took to the water on Kayaks to create a barricade which would halt the rig’s departure for the Arctic. Like Al Gore, the groups cite the risk of an oil spill as a main reason for their disapproval of the drilling plan.
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