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Sierra Club to Dept. of Interior: Shell Is Proving Our Point in the Arctic

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Today's Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee

Below are the comments delivered by Sierra Club Lands Team Represenatative Claire Price to a meeting of the Department of Interior's Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee today - January 10 - in Washington, D.C.:

"Hello, my name is Claire Price, Sierra Club Lands Team Representative.

It is not news that the Sierra Club and our 2.1 million members, supporters, and volunteers oppose drilling in America’s Arctic. The area is too sensitive, too ecologically important, and – as those who try to conquer it continue to learn – too volatile for oil drilling. In fact, as the threat of climate disruption becomes a dangerous reality, drilling is a one-two punch for the Arctic, as the carbon released would further melt arctic ice by worsening our climate crisis.

The Sierra Club has been so clear with our position that Royal Dutch Shell "preemptively" sued our organization to stop us from making the case that drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean is risky and unsafe. Then, Shell spent the rest of 2012 making our argument far better than we ever could. In less than one year, Shell proved over and over again that they are completely incapable of safely drilling in the Arctic. Their ships have caught fire and lost control; they crushed their own spill containment equipment, a criminal investigation into pollution violations has been launched against one of their drilling ships, and another ran aground in Alaska while carrying more than 150,000 gallons of fuel.

This should be the last straw.

We should judge Shell not by their assurances or their PR tactics, but by their record – and Shell’s record clearly demonstrates that letting them operate in the Arctic is an invitation for disaster. With their long list of mistakes, missteps, and shortcomings raising fears of another Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon disaster, Shell does not deserve another chance to fail.

Shell may argue that the company took every step possible to ensure safety. If that is true, their consistent failures demonstrate that no amount of preparation by any oil company can guarantee safe drilling in the Arctic.

The Sierra Club urges the Obama Administration to take three critically important steps as soon as possible:

1)       Deny permits for the drilling of exploratory wells in the Arctic this summer

2)      Rescind leases from Shell, Conoco, and Statoil, returning the money those companies paid for drilling rights back to their coffers.

3)      Cancel proposed lease sales in 2016 and 2017 for the Chuchki and Beaufort seas.

For Shell, 2012 was a year of dangerous mishaps that show why oil cannot be safely drilled from the Arctic Ocean. For the rest of us, it was a year of disasters -- from droughts and wildfires to record heat and the superstorm Sandy -- that show why it's more important than ever that we address climate disruption and move beyond oil for good. We can’t put one of our most ecologically important regions on the hook for the problems oil companies have shown they will invariably have when they try to drill there. And we shouldn’t expect our climate crisis to be addressed by doing more of the same. That’s why we must act now before it’s too late. By making each of these decisions President Obama and his administration would prove they are serious about solving our climate crisis, ending our dangerous dependence on dirty energy, and preserving one of our most pristine and important wild areas for generations to come."



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