Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Arctic’

Nowhere Else in the World

walrus_emailNowhere Else in the World

The Arctic Ocean is like nowhere else in the world. Home to walruses, beluga whales, and polar bears, this frozen landscape is teeming with life. But soon this fragile habitat could be swarming with oil rigs instead.

Oil companies may soon be able to start buying up new leases in the Chukchi Sea, the first step to oil drilling and, eventually, oil spills.

Act now to oppose new oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea »

The Pacific walrus dives deep down to the seafloor to hunt for shellfish. It needs a stable, healthy environment to survive. If an oil spill were to hit the Chukchi Sea, walruses could be forced to swim through oil. Even worse, the effects of a spill could kill food on which walruses, whales, and other animals depend, leaving these incredible animals hungry.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing to sell oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea. Drilling in the Arctic is very risky due to icy waters, bad weather, and the complete lack of proven spill response technologies. Shell’s efforts to drill exploration wells have been met with failure after failure, culminating in the grounding of a drilling rig near Kodiak, Alaska. If oil drilling is allowed in the Chukchi Sea, it will only be a matter of time until a disaster strikes.

Walruses and whales need a safe home. Submit a public comment telling BOEM that oil drills don’t belong in the Chukchi Sea »

If enough of us speak up, we can convince BOEM to keep unsafe oil drills out of the U.S. Chukchi Sea entirely.

This important sea needs to be kept safe for the walruses, whales and polar bears who live, hunt, and migrate within its waters.

For the Arctic,
Rachael Prokop
Oceana

Greenpeace Pirates?

Greenpeace Pirates

A Russian court has just formally charged 28 Greenpeace activists from around the world, along with a freelance photographer and videographer, with piracy.

If convicted, each could face up to fifteen years in a Russian prison. All for the crime of peacefully protesting oil drilling in the Arctic. It’s the most serious threat to Greenpeace’s environmental work since French secret service agents bombed and sunk the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior — killing a crew member — back in 1985.

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But we didn’t back down then and can’t back down now — no matter how far those in power go to silence the people who speak out against Arctic oil drilling and environmental destruction. With your support, we can stop drilling in the Arctic just like we stopped French nuclear weapons testing three decades ago.

The scene from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise two weeks ago was almost unbelievable.

Using a helicopter and ropes, fifteen armed Russian special forces agents boarded the ship and started rounding up everyone onboard, assembling them on the helideck and taking control of the ship. The crew was eventually moved to the main area of the ship and put under guard while the ship was towed to the Russian city of Murmansk.

It was in Murmansk where, just yesterday, the last of the Greenpeace activists and the two freelancers were charged with piracy. They’re not pirates. Peaceful protest isn’t piracy. It’s the voice that our environment desperately needs right now.

Don’t let that voice and the voices of those charged with piracy in Russia be silenced. Please help support our work to save the Arctic and protect the environment by making a gift today.

Greenpeace doesn’t take a dime from corporations or governments so we can do what’s necessary to protect the environment. Especially when corporations and governments are the ones threatening our environment in the first place.

We rely entirely on financial support from people like you to do the work that we do. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,

Phil Radford
Greenpeace USA Executive Director

P.S. A Russian court has just formally charged 28 Greenpeace activists, along with a freelance photographer and videographer, with piracy for protesting Arctic drilling.

Arctic Death March

Gabriel-

Instead of seeing warning signs, big oil and the government are seeing dollar signs in the melting Arctic.

There’s still time to stop the drilling, but we need 1,635 supporters from California to raise $100,000 by our December 31 deadline to make it happen.

Can you chip in to help save polar bear cubs from starvation?

A polar bear cub struggles to keep up with its mom. She’s searching for sea ice to hunt for food, but the swim is too far. The cub doesn’t make it. It was a common story this year in the Arctic.

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Soon there might be nowhere left to swim. This year Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level in recorded history and if current trends continue there could be no summer sea ice at all in the next decade.

But instead of seeing warning signs in the melting ice, big oil and the government are seeing dollar signs. Shell has been given permits to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic. If we burn the oil under the Arctic, it will spell the end for the polar bear.

Please make a year-end gift right now and help us raise $100,000 by midnight December 31 to save polar bear cubs from a melting Arctic. We need just 1,635 donors from California to make this happen.

We have to stop the drilling before it’s too late.

Shell’s plans have already been put on hold until next year thanks to Mother Nature, the company’s own incompetence and the success of our global campaign. Now is our opportunity to make sure they don’t get the chance to go back.

In the last week alone we’ve flooded the White House with over 50,000 messages asking President Obama to suspend Shell’s drilling permits and call a ‘timeout’ on Arctic drilling. Now we need your financial support to ramp up our campaign around the world calling for the creation of a global sanctuary in the high Arctic.

We’re running a worldwide campaign to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole off limits to industrialization. And this spring we’ll be leading an expedition to the North Pole and planting a ‘Flag for the Future’ there. The flag will send a message of peace, hope and global community and will be designed by the world’s youth as part of an international competition. A stark contrast to the flags planted by nation states fighting over the exploitation of resources.

We’ll also be taking a time capsule to the North Pole containing the names of the over two million people who added their name to our Arctic Scroll. Once there, we will lower it four kilometers beneath the ice and plant it on the seabed as a symbol for all humanity.

None of this is possible without your support. Please make a year-end gift today to help save polar bears cubs once and for all, protect the environment and ensure that we reach our goal of $100,000 by December 31.

Greenpeace is completely independent. We don’t take a dime from corporations or governments. That means we can do whatever is needed to protect the environment. It also means we completely rely on donors like you making a gift today to support all of our campaigns.

Thanks for all you do,

Philip Radford
Greenpeace USA Executive Director

The Clock Is Ticking

Dear Gabriel,

The EPA has yet to issue a decision on Shell’s last minute bait and switch on the air pollution rules it agreed to for its arctic drilling rigs.

But the clock is ticking. Final approvals must come by the 15th of August.

That means either the EPA will be pressured to cave before then and let Shell write its own rules, or — if we can create enough pressure for EPA to draw a line — we could stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Please make a call right now to urge EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stand strong for the protection of our Arctic. Click here for a simple script and number to call.

Given the recent history of deepwater offshore drilling, and Shell’s track record so far — which includes losing control of one of its drilling rigs2 — the stakes for the pristine Arctic Ocean are all too real.

In a twist of irony, even as most of the country suffers from the hottest summer on record, Arctic sea ice has been slow to melt this year.3 The condition of the sea ice, combined with Shell’s repeated backtracking on its commitments, including on its oil spill response plan and with EPA and the Coast Guard, have prevented Shell’s final approval from moving forward.

If the Obama Administration approves drilling this summer, Shell will be especially rushed to drill before the sea ice forms again in October. But if the EPA draws the line now, we can protect the Arctic for at least one more year.

What happens in the next few days will shape EPA’s decision. Please make a call now.

Thank you for defending the Arctic.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Spill Baby Spill – Arctic Oil

Dear Gabriel,

Weeks away from starting the first major offshore oil drilling operations in the Arctic, Shell is pulling a major bait and switch — telling the EPA it can’t meet the air pollution rules the company had already agreed to in order to get a drilling permit.

Shell has known since 2010 it would have problems meeting the rules for nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. But officials still told the EPA they could. Now Shell wants the EPA to weaken the rules at the last minute?

It’s clear that Shell simply cannot be trusted. The company’s request gives the EPA the option to cancel Shell’s permit. That’s exactly what EPA must do.

This is our last, best opportunity to block Shell from drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

This bait and switch is the latest in a long list of broken promises, walk-backs and mishaps which should serve as clear signs to the Obama Administration that allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster.

Just this weekend, Shell literally lost control of its Discoverer drilling rig, which either ran aground or very nearly did so, when its anchor broke while harbored a thousand miles south of the Arctic. Moderate winds are being blamed — yet these winds are mild compared to what it will encounter in the Arctic. The rig, one of the oldest in the world, had a similar anchor malfunction just last year, while it was stationed in New Zealand.

Shell is also having problems with its nearly forty-year-old oil spill recovery barge. While Shell promised the Coast Guard it would upgrade it substantially to withstand stronger weather, Shell now says those upgrades aren’t necessary. The Coast Guard hasn’t yet decided if it will weaken these standards for Shell.

And of course — while we’ve known for some time that the Obama Administration was being hoodwinked by Shell’s hopelessly inadequate oil spill response plan — now Shell has come out and admitted its initial spill response claims were overstated. Shell initially said it could “recover” 95% of oil in the case of a major spill. Now Shell is saying that what it actually meant is “encounter” 95% of the oil — whatever that means.5

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Shockingly, the Department of Interior has put the probability of an oil spill in the Arctic at 40%.

That is simply unacceptable. With Shell in the driver’s seat, it’s clear that it would be unwise to even bank on those unacceptably high odds.

Shell’s request to EPA is a major opportunity for President Obama and the EPA to revisit the undeserved trust they have put in Shell thus far. It’s time for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to be a hero, and draw a line to stop the next major drilling disaster in the Arctic.

With Shell hoping to start drilling as soon as the Arctic sea ice clears in the coming weeks, EPA’s response could come any day. Click here to automatically add your name to the petition now.

Thank you for defending the Arctic from reckless offshore drilling.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

We’ve Got It Covered

Shell Says It Can ‘Encounter’ 95 Percent of an Arctice Oil Spill, Not Collect it.
From Nation of Change
by Joe Smyth
2 July 2012

As Shell’s rigs head toward the Arctic to exploit melting sea ice to drill for more oil, the company took a small step this weekend in clarifying what would happen in an oil spill during the company’s planned Arctic drilling operations this summer.

Despite the oil industry’s spin, experts know it is impossible to recover more than a small fraction of a major marine oil spill, as retired Coast Guard Admiral Roger Rufe told NPR: “But once oil is in the water, it’s a mess. And we’ve never proven anywhere in the world — let alone in the ice — that we’re very good at picking up more than 3 or 5 or 10 percent of the oil once it’s in the water.”

So how is it possible, according to the New York Times, that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “said he believed the company’s claims that it could collect at least 90 percent of any oil spilled in the event of a well blowout.” These sorts of claims have raised eyebrows among advocates and scientists who study offshore oil drilling — they aren’t just unbelievable, they’re laughably, outrageously impossible. NPR’s Richard Harris cuts through Shell’s spin, and explains what these numbers really mean:

“They have a miniscule number of boats compared to what was available in the Gulf of Mexico,” [Peter Van Tuyn, and environmental lawyer in Anchorage] says, and in the Gulf, “they didn’t have to deal with the extreme weather conditions that we’ve got in the Arctic.” High winds are the norm, and sea ice is always a possible hazard, “and yet they [Shell] claim they can collect as much as 95 percent.”

Merrell says the company has made no such claim. Instead, he says, the oil company’s plan is to confront 95 percent of the oil out in the open water, before it comes ashore. That doesn’t mean responders can collect what they encounter.

“Because the on-scene conditions can be so variable, it would be rather ridiculous of us to make any kind of performance guarantee,” Merrell says.

While discussing the same issue with the Associated Press, Shell PR folks take another word out for a spin, and even try to blame “opposition groups” for this confusion:

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said opposition groups are purposely mischaracterizing Shell’s oil spill response plan. The plan does not claim Shell can clean up 90 percent of an oil spill, he said.

“We say in our plan we expect to ‘encounter’ 90 percent of any discharge on site — very close to the drilling rig,” he said. “We expect to encounter 5 percent near-shore between the drilling rig and the coast. And we expect to encounter another 5 percent on shore. We never make claims about the percent we could actually recover, because conditions vary, of course.”

Where Shell plans to drill in the Arctic, those conditions include 20 foot swells, hurricane force winds, sea ice, and months of total darkness, and all without deep water ports or other infrastructure needed to mount a major oil spill response. But let’s put that aside for a moment, to make sure we’re not mischaracterizing here: Shell expects to “encounter” or “confront” 90% of the spilled oil and another 5% the company plans to — rendezvous? — with elsewhere in the ocean, while the remaining 5% Shell might — happen upon? — on shore. How much of that oil might be recovered, collected, or, you know, removed from the environment? Well, Shell says conditions vary, so making a performance guarantee would be rather ridiculous.

In the relatively calm conditions of the Gulf of Mexico, with thousands of response vessels, only a small fraction was recovered from the BP oil disaster. Despite shameful efforts to spin its announcement, a government report found that 4% of the oil was skimmed, and another 6% was burned. And as oil spill expert Rick Steiner observes, even those estimates might be too high, and burning oil isn’t really removing it from the environment: “It either went into the air as atmospheric emissions, and some of that is pretty toxic stuff, or there’s a residue from burning crude that sinks to the ocean floor, sometimes in big thick mats.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

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