President Obama just wrapped up a three day tour through Alaska where he stressed the need to act fast on climate, an issue he has made a priority during his presidency. The retreating glaciers reveal the real and present dangers that come along with a changing climate.
One topic the president did not bring attention to, however, was the permit he granted Shell allowing them to begin the process of drilling in the Arctic. Though the president has made global warming a key issue of his presidency, his support of offshore drilling stands in stark contrast to our need to move forward on climate.
Shell’s reckless plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean would put one-fifth of the world’s polar bears at risk, as well as the beluga whales, ice seals, and walrus that call this region home. When you drill you spill, and a spill in the Arctic would be especially devastating since the harsh conditions make cleanup nearly impossible.
Every continent where offshore drilling happens has suffered pollution from a major spill. And what’s worse is under Shell’s current plans, even the U.S. Government acknowledges a 75 percent chance of failure.
Standing before a retreating glacier President Obama said, “We want to make sure that our grandkids can see this.”
Drilling in the Arctic moves us in the opposite direction of this vision. Not only does it continue the burning of fossil fuels releasing even more carbon into the air but it also threatens the region’s incredible wildlife and pristine water, as well as the health of our planet.
Alaska’s glaciers are losing 75 billion tons of ice a year. This rapid melting means rising sea levels, putting islands and coastal areas across the world at risk. We need to do everything in our power to reduce the effects of climate change. Allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is not part of the solution.
We’ve moved forward under President Obama’s leadership with bold initiatives to increase our use of solar power and the first-ever regulations on pollution from dirty power plants, but he continues to undermine this important progress by allowing drilling.
To truly lead the nation in tackling climate change and preserving our planet for future generations, President Obama needs to immediately scale back offshore drilling operations and halt drilling plans in the Arctic.