Quantcast
Popular

Alaska Senators Introduce Bill to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling in Arctic Ocean and Cook Inlet

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans from Alaska, have introduced legislation to expand oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and Cook Inlet, putting fragile ecosystems and endangered wildlife at risk.


In December, President Obama permanently protected large areas of U.S. waters in the Arctic from oil and gas drilling. The new bill—Senate Bill 883—would effectively cancel these protections and force the Department of the Interior to quickly approve new oil and gas leasing.

"It's not possible to drill safely in the Arctic, as we just saw from the leaking oil and gas well on the North Slope," said Miyoko Sakashita, ocean programs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "This legislation's nothing more than a giveaway to oil companies. It'll hurt Alaska's healthy habitat and endangered wildlife."

S. 883 would require Interior to add at least three leases each in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and one in Cook Inlet to each five-year leasing plan. The agency would be required to establish a new near-shore Beaufort planning area with annual lease sales for the next three years.

The bill would also overturn President Obama's decision to stop exploration and drilling permanently in most of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. These areas are home to several endangered species, including polar bears and bowhead whales.

"If we let oil companies drill the Arctic, a catastrophic oil spill is just a matter of time," Sakashita said. "It's shameful that the Alaska congressional delegation has so little regard for the horrendous damage the oil industry could do to this fragile ecosystem and the people who live and work along this coast."

Leading climate scientists say the vast majority of untapped fossil fuels must stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic, irreversible changes to the climate. Unleased federal waters contain an estimated 75 billion barrels of crude oil, more than twice that of unleased federal lands. Stopping the expansion of new leases in federal waters would keep 61.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere and oceans.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
sveta_zarzamora / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Flexitarian Diet: Your Starter’s Guide and Sample Diet Plan

By Joe Leech

While there are many health benefits to being vegetarian, some of us don't want to completely cut out meat.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Humanity Chopping Down Tree of Life, New Research Warns

By Jessica Corbett

Underscoring the urgent need for increased and intensely focused conservation efforts, new research shows that human activity worldwide is wiping out plant and animal life—including our own—so rapidly that evolution can't keep up.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Drought and rising global temperatures could hasten the last call for beer. Pixabay

Climate Change Could Cause Global Beer Shortage

Climate change is coming for our beer. Rising global temperatures and widespread drought could cause yields of barley, a primary ingredient in beer, to decrease as much as 17 percent by the end of the century, according to a study published Monday in Nature Plants.

Decreases in the global supply of barley could ultimately cause "dramatic" regional decreases in beer consumption (-32 percent in Argentina, for instance) and corresponding increases in beer prices (+193 percent in Ireland, for instance), the study says.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
View of the damage caused by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 13. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP / Getty Images

As Scientists Sound Climate Change Alarm, States Lead on Solutions

By Abigail Dillen

This column originally appeared in USA Today.

The world's leading panel of climate experts sounded the alarm this week that we are running out of time to get rising temperatures under control. Its latest report calls for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented" steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, from worsening wildfires and extreme drought to rising sea levels and more powerful storms. It also reminds us what is at stake if we fail to act: our health, our food and water security, our environment and our economy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Paul Allen pictured in 2014. Courtesy of Vulcan Inc. / Beatrice de Gea

Paul Allen's Environmental Legacy Lives On

The world lost an important environmental icon on Monday with the passing of Paul G. Allen. He died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Seattle, according to his company Vulcan Inc. He was 65.

Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates and owned the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, was also a major philanthropist devoted to making the world a better place.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Rangers tranquilized a bear cub to free him from a plastic jar. Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife & Heritage Service

Rangers Free Bear Cub From Plastic Jar After Three-Day Search

A Maryland bear cub got himself into a sticky situation over the weekend.

The 100-pound male bear earned himself the nickname "Buckethead" when he got his head stuck in a plastic jar in search of a tasty snack, BBC News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Arkhip Vereshchagin / TASS / Getty Images

Trump Admin Plans to Use West Coast Military Bases to Ship Coal, Natural Gas

The Trump administration is considering using military bases to export coal and natural gas as a way to override state opposition to building private export terminals, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke told the AP.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
San Juan National Forest. Scrubhiker (USCdyer) / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Trump Plan to Ramp Up Fracking, Mining in National Forests Threatens Climate

The Trump administration's plan to make it easier for industry to frack and mine in national forests would endanger the climate, wildlife and watersheds, the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups said in comments submitted Monday to the U.S. Forest Service.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!