This pledge closed 11 months ago
Earlier this year the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved a proposal by Shell Oil Company to start drilling operations off the northern coast of Alaska. The company has long had its eye on the remote area, known as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and has now attained the federal go ahead to begin preliminary surveys of the icy waters. However, in approving Shell's plan, the federal agency overlooked several serious environmental factors that the company's activities threaten to wreck on the region. Despite the frigid temperatures, these ice-flecked seas are the preferred home of countless endangered species, including bowhead whales, beluga whales, gray whales, several seal species, Pacific walrus, polar bears, and about 100 fish species. In addition, endangered humpback whales have begun to migrate to the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in recent years. The various seismic surveys that Shell plans on conducting this summer and fall – involving the use of underwater air guns that generate extremely loud noises every 10 to 15 seconds for days, weeks and even months at a time – would seriously disrupt these animals' feeding, migration, social bonding, and predator avoidance mechanisms. The drilling itself would rob these threatened species of their natural habitat, threatening the livelihoods of many Native Alaskans.
Environmental activists also raise concerns about the possibility of an oil spill in this remote region, located 1,000 miles from the nearest Coast Guard base. In the event of a spill, emergency support would come far too late to properly contain the damage. Moreover, booms and skimmers, the traditional methods of cleaning oil from the water's surface, are much less effective in the rough and choppy Arctic seas. For all of these environmental concerns, the public law firm Earthjustice - representing a coalition of conservation and indigenous rights organizations - filed a lawsuit last week against the BSEE. The suit claims that the government failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing geological permits without reviewing the environmental impact of the proposal. They also raise the issue of Shell harassing several species of seals and whales during seismic surveys. Unless we take action, Shell will go ahead with its drilling plans, endangering countless marine animals and risking an environmental catastrophe. Join us in boycotting Shell Oil until they abandon their drilling plans in the Arctic. Shell Oil must own up to the true environmental impact that their operations pose; until then, we won't spend another dime at their gas stations across the country. For the sake of this fragile ecosystem, as well as the countless animals and people who rely on its icy waters for their livelihoods - Join the Boycott!