[ View the story "#ShellNo: The Arctic oil battle" on Storify] #ShellNo: The Arctic oil battle Threats of catastrophic climate change rile activists opposed to Arctic oil exploration
The Stream· Tue, May 26 2015 19:16:42
Thousands of "
" paddled across the Port of Seattle in recent days, creating a boat blockade around Shell's Polar Pioneer. The massive oil drilling rig is making a stopover in the port on its way to the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska. Protesters fear it will bring environmental disaster to the Arctic.
Paddle in SeattleGreenpeace USA
Activists mobilized after the US government
conditional approval for Shell to resume its activities in the Arctic, which were postponed after safety concerns arose in 2012. The approval is contingent on Shell's
in obtaining appropriate permits and building adequate safety equipment.
Despite Shell's assurances that it is following the highest standards, some Native Alaskans and environmental activists are doubtful. They point to a failed attempt at oil exploration in 2012, when Shell's rig, the Kulluk, cut loose and
after cables snapped in strong winds. The company was
Coast Guard Rescues Mobile Drilling Unit Kulluk CrewCoastGuardNews
The Chukchi's choppy, icy waters make for
. The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has
that over the long-term, oil exploration, production and extraction bring a 75 per cent chance of "one or more spills". Cleaning it up could be difficult, since the Chukchi is
from the coast line, and far from airports, coast guards and other infrastructure needed for an emergency response.
The Stream asked its community if it has confidence that Shell has addressed safety concerns.
@AJStream absolutely not. Deep water horizon spilled unfettered in CALM waters. The arctic regularly faces 20'+ swells and pervasive ice.Jordan Washburn
But President Obama
his administration delayed approving Shell's application for offshore drilling until the company could prove it could respond to an oil leak in the Arctic. Here he is earlier this month, speaking to reporters at the Gulf Cooperation Summit:
Aljazeera Obama's Statment on Arctic Drilling Part 1Streamers AJE
Shell's President, Marvin Odum,
the company is "being held to the highest operating standards". The company also argues drilling will bring "
" to areas in need of development. Many Alaskan Natives agree,
they are in desperate need of the jobs Shell will bring. Communities lack basic needs like plumbing, health care and quality education.
@Shell_Alaska You're welcome. Keep in mind the large majority of Alaskans that wants you 2 succeed. We know if you do, AK wins,too!#ShellYesAOGA
@AJStream it is great. Every nation state should be able to exploit its national patrimony for the long-term good of its citizens.Joshua Noonan
Much prefer responsible drilling here in the US to buying our oil from foreign countries. #ShellYes rather than #ShellNoJAW
However, many environmentalists
the risks outweigh the economic benefits.
Whether we let #ShellNo drill in #Arctic our build a useless pipeline there is one type of job created. @NoBakken
@AJStream Only a few people would reap any economical benefit from drilling in the Arctic, but thousands would suffer after a disaster.SuzyBlueLady
@ajstream &will the whole world have to groan in pain because indigenous alaskans want jobs in their province?how rhetoric!muhammad akanbi
The impact on indigenous communities is a concern for many Alaskans. According to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, there are 11 whaling villages that
on whales for their livelihoods. Noise created during oil exploration creates a "fence of sound" that might displace whales as they migrate.
Greenpeace - Save The ArcticA Large Evil Corporation
the far-reaching effects of oil spills on wildlife and economies. A recent report
at least 106 dolphin deaths to the 2010 BP Global's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Cleanup of the recent Plains All American Pipeline spill in Santa Barbara is already
tourism in Refugio Beach, a normally busy vacation destination during the summer months.
@AJStream There can't be any sort of benefits from destroying a beautiful habitat. Never!Mr. Muna
that the Arctic oil reserves need to remain underground to uphold the world's
to preventing the Earth from warming more than two degrees Celsius, a goal that would
a drastic constraint in carbon emissions in the next few decades.
Some Stream community members feel the damage has already been been done:
@DanMing @AJStream Wildlife in the north pole is endangered. We have already kick started the next great extinction.Vineeth Maller
@DanMing @AJStream It's too late for this kind of discussions. #ClimateChange has already begun.Vineeth Maller
But others, including
, say it's not too late to make a change.
@AJStream keeping oil in the ground is also a great incentive to divert investment and have money funneled towards renewable energyTyler MacFarlane