Shell has been trying, and failing, to drill in the Arctic for eight years. Most recently, Shell's made a request to the US government to extend its lease to drill for another 5 years.
If this plan is rejected, we can sink Shell's plans for good. There's no way any oil company should be drilling in the Arctic. It's far too difficult and dangerous -- and a spill would irreversibly damage the fragile ecosystem that's home to endangered polar bears, bowhead whales and walruses.
Shell's attempts to drill in the Alaskan Arctic have been plagued by accidents and legal delays. So far, it has spent $6bn and hasn't extracted a single drop of oil. Its leases will start running out soon, so the oil giant is in a panic, pleading with the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to extend its drilling permits for another five years. Let's make sure the answer Shell gets is 'no'.
Tell the BSEE not to give Shell special treatment, and to let its leases run out.
The Arctic is one of the planet's last remaining wildernesses. As climate change melts the Arctic ice, oil companies are moving in to extract more of the fossil fuels that caused the melt in the first place. Shell has led the charge to extract the billions of barrels of oil that lie beneath the seabed.
But the oil giant has run into problems at every stage. And a new US government study says there’s a 75% chance of a major oil spill in the Arctic. Legal challenges by Indigenous and environmental groups have caused years of delays, as did the massive BP oil spill. Meanwhile, the technical challenges of operating in the world's harshest environment are off the chart. In 2012 Shell's rig ran aground on an island, and perhaps most worryingly, its spill containment system broke. All this should be enough to persuade Shell and its long-suffering investors to stop throwing money at the Arctic for no reward, and cancel its plans there for good.
Still Shell wants the US government to do it a favour and bend the rules, by quietly extending its Arctic drilling leases which are due to run out in 2017. This is an act of desperation. Shell knows that it is unlikely to get new permits to drill in the Arctic, because the world is waking up to the dangers. Its only hope is to pull some strings and get its existing leases extended.
We need to make sure the BSEE doesn't cave in to Shell's pressure and rejects this request. Millions of people have already voiced their opposition to drilling in the Arctic, forcing Shell into this corner. Now we have the opportunity to end the company's dangerous Arctic drilling dreams for good.
Sign the petition against extending Shell's permission to drill in the Arctic.
Shell Seeks 5 More Years for Arctic Oil Drilling Drive, Bloomberg, October 28 2014
Oil Giant Shell Wants The U.S. Government To Give It Another Five Years In The Arctic, ThinkProgress, October 30 2014