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Public Comments Due Soon on Offshore Drilling in Chukchi Sea

Thanks to All who stood up for the living Arctic Ocean at the first Fairbanks hearing in decades held by the offshore drilling agency. There is still time to send in written comments on Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193 EIS about risky offshore drilling proposed in this productive sea so vital to whales, walrus, birds, and people!

Public Comments Due Soon on Offshore Drilling in Chukchi Sea

Deepwater Horizon Blowout

Walrus - National Geographic
Please Stand Up for the Arctic Ocean!

You can send in written comments until July 11, 2011

We had a good turnout at the first hearing in decades in Fairbanks about risky drilling in the Arctic Ocean!  Senator Begich had requested this hearing -- at the behest of the oil and gas industry and allies.  Strong testimony opposed to this plan and which spoke to the risks of disastrous spills made up half the speakers!  Thanks to all who showed up and listened to the views of our community.

Please speak out to support the future of Alaska’s Arctic Ocean.  We all have a stake in clean oceans that support our wild salmon, birds, and wildlife.  

This EIS is one hard-won step in review of the poor and rushed lease sale held by the Bush Administration that was found to be legally deficient.  The government should not rush ahead of science and the advancement of technology by approving harmful drilling in the Arctic Ocean proposed by Shell for 2012-13.   

The original EIS said “we consider blowouts to be unlikely events” and did not analyze their impacts.  This new draft does have an analysis that shows very large oil spills – as big as last year’s Deepwater Horizon – could occur from drilling in the Chukchi Sea which could have catastrophic effects on polar bears, birds, whales, and coastal communities.  But there still is not proven technology to clean up oil spilled amid the Arctic’s broken sea ice where emergency response equipment is hundreds of miles away and the Coast Guard is 1,000 miles away. 

Furthermore, this revised EIS still did not address a single data gap among hundreds it noted about the marine ecosystem.  It is not responsible to move forward with risky plans to drill in these bountiful waters until proven response capabilities are in place to clean up an oil spill.  As the Deepwater Horizon spill demonstrated, rushing ahead without adequate information can have tragic and irreversible consequences.    

Join us in Standing Up for the living Arctic Ocean! 

Please submit written comments by July 11, 2011.  Click Here to Comment. 

Comments may also be submitted via these other two ways:

Mail or Delivery: Enclose comments in an envelope labeled "Comments on the Revised Draft SEIS, Lease Sale 193 Chukchi Sea" and send to:

Regional Director
BOEMRE Alaska OCS Region
3801 Centerpoint Dr Ste 500
Anchorage AK 99503-5820

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Access the Notice of Availability at: www.regulations.gov, Document ID No. BOEM-2011-0044-0001. Click on the orange button labeled "Submit a Comment."

If you have questions, call Pam Miller at NAEC 907-452-5021.

Other points you may want to make:

·         Make it Personal! For example, even in the heart of Alaska in Fairbanks, we have a stake in the riches of salmon migrating up the Yukon and Tanana Rivers from the Bering Sea (and feeding areas in the Chukchi Sea), to migratory birds, marine mammals, and other fish and wildlife that connect us to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding coasts.  Please protect one of our nation’s greatest natural treasures – a vast, wild place at the top of the world that polar bears, whales, walrus, seals and Alaska Native communities all call home!   

·         There is no proven technology to clean up oil spilled amid the Arctic's broken sea ice and emergency response equipment is hundreds of miles away.  Shell claims to have 'perfected Arctic oil spill response' despite relying on an untested plan that includes glorified mops and buckets, and Shell’s “cap” for wells is not even built yet.  

·         Ask Secretary Salazar to require that he hold off decisions about drilling in the Arctic Ocean until a plan is in place to gather and synthesize adequate baseline ecological information basic essential information and that proven technology exists to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean’s extreme conditions.  

·         Although Royal Dutch Shell Oil, one of the largest corporations in the world, claims to have more rigorous response plans, the fact this that they still lack proven technology to clean up a spill in Arctic Ocean waters choked with icebergs that can be as tall as three-story apartment buildings.  There is no field tested and proven plan for cleaning up a spill in a region characterized by extreme cold, extended periods of darkness, hurricane-strength storms and pervasive fog.    

·         The Chukchi Sea of the Arctic Ocean is one of the wildest and most biologically diverse seas left in the world. Supporting one-tenth of the world's remaining polar bears, it is also is part of the spring and fall migration routes for endangered bowhead and beluga whales, a feeding area for gray and finback whales and Pacific walrus, and an important habitat for migratory birds. The Inupiat people, who have subsisted off the ocean garden for thousands of years, depend on the Chukchi Sea for the survival of their people and way of life. Yet, the fate of the Chukchi Sea hangs in the balance.  

·         The Interior Secretary should require that the data gaps identified in the Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193 supplemental EIS be filled.  This court-ordered re-do states that not one piece of the hundreds of instances of missing information is necessary before Shell Oil is allowed to drill in an environment already deeply stressed by climate change.  Yet it admits there is not enough basic scientific information about the Arctic - from simple species counts of marine and coastal fish and marine mammals such as walrus to information about currents and tidal systems – to fully understand the potential impacts of development to this already imperiled place.  This information is vital prior to approval of any new drilling in the Arctic Ocean.  

·         The EIS  estimates a 27-54% chance of large spills from the drill platform or pipelines resulting from the Chukchi Sea sale 193.  

·         Before the Interior Department considers any drilling in the Arctic Ocean, such as Shell Oil’s plans in the Beaufort and Chukchi for 2012 and 2013, more environmental analysis must be completed, including the impacts from a potential blowout oil spill during the proposed drilling. 

This draft SEIS is a hard-won step in light of the poor and rushed lease sale by the Bush Administration that was found to be legally deficient. Read more here or go to www.northern.org

For more information from the Interior Department: Chukchi Sea Lease Sale Information.  

Thanks for your voice to keep the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding coasts wild!

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