Quantcast
Popular
Greenpeace

Coast Guard Makes Dire Warning About Drilling in the Arctic

By Andy Rowell

For months now America's climate denying president, Donald Trump, has been manoeuvering to open up the Arctic to oil drilling, in another act of defiance against his predecessor, Barak Obama.

Back in April, Trump signed an executive order to extend offshore oil and gas drilling to large parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.


"We're opening it up ... Today we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs," Trump said as he signed the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.

The executive order instructed the Interior Department to re-examine policies put into place by Obama, who in one of his last acts as president had restricted offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic until 2022. Obama had banned drilling in both areas, saying they were "simply not right to lease."

As Trump signed the order, his Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke told reporters, "We're going to look at everything. A new administration should look at the policies and make sure the policies are appropriate."

Last month, the White House made further attempts to overturn the Obama administration's five-year plan forbidding oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.

Zinke said in a speech: "There's a consequence when you put 94 percent of our offshore off limits. There's a consequence of not harvesting trees. There's a consequence of not using some of our public lands for creation of wealth and jobs."

Then earlier this month, the Trump administration granted Italian oil company Eni the right to drill exploratory wells off the coast of Alaska. As InsideClimate News reported, "Eni's leases were exempt from Obama's ban because the leases are not new."

In response, Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "An oil spill here would do incredible damage, and it'd be impossible to clean up."

And now in a devastating, uncompromising rebuke to Trump and Zinke, the head of the U.S. Coast Guard has agreed with the Center for Biological Diversity: The U.S. cannot successfully clean up an oil spill in the Arctic.

Admiral Paul Zukunft, who was the federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, told a Washington symposium hosted by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and NOAA that they would not recover all the oil if there was a spill in the Arctic.

Zukunft (his speech begins at 1:52) spoke to the Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, warning about how climate change was changing the Arctic, with glaciers retreating and ice disappearing due to "polar acceleration."

"You have got to understand what is happening to high latitudes," he said, before adding you have to see what is happening "first hand" and "how it is affecting the whole globe around us."

He then went on to talk about oil spills:

"I can assure you that if there is an oil spill, we're not going to recover all that oil. On the best of days, during the Deepwater Horizon cleanup, we maybe recovered 15 percent of that oil. And when I say recovered we burnt it, we dispersed it and it was flat calm and we had a fleet of over 6,000 ships out there doing recovery operations, and we had the infrastructure to support all of that."

"Now you put that many people up in Barrow, Alaska. They better be carrying polar bear spray, because they're going to be camped out with mosquitoes as we don't have the infrastructure up there."

He ended by warning: "We don't know what Mother Nature would do and we don't know the long term impacts to one of the most pristine environments in the world. It's not an area we want to oil and then find out after the fact."

He was not alone: The former chief Navy oceanographer Rear Admiral Jonathan White told the conference there was still no proven methods of cleaning up an oil spill in ice.

Their warnings come as the House begins the process of trying to open up drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, long seen as one of the last true wilderness areas in the U.S.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Trump Watch
Patagonia

Why Trump’s Shrinking of Bears Ears Will Be Reversed

By Eric Biber, Nicholas Bryner, Sean B. Hecht and Mark Squillace

On Dec. 4, President Trump traveled to Utah to sign proclamations downsizing Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly 50 percent. "[S]ome people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington," Trump said. "And guess what? They're wrong."

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
NPR

Environmental Scorecard Highlights Need for Congress to Better Protect Our Environment & Health

Environment America released its 2017 Environmental Scorecard on Thursday, tracking how the U.S. Congress voted on bills that could protect our air, water, landscapes and the health of the planet. Absences count against a member's score.

Environment America's Washington, DC office director Anna Aurilio said the following:

"Sadly, Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much these days, including the need to protect our environment. It shouldn't be this way, it didn't used to be and we're doing all we can to make sure it's not this way in the future.

But, as we release our environmental scorecard for 2017, we want to not only applaud the Democrats who scored 100 percent, but also cheer on those members of both parties who boldly stood up for our planet this year.

Overall, the U.S. Senate had a score of 47 percent and the U.S. House of Representatives scored 45 percent, which does not bode well for our air or water.

The good news is that 139 members from the two branches voted with us 100 percent of the time, which means our planet and our families are represented by a lot of real environmental champs.

And on a number of issues, the environment received bipartisan support. In particular, a cadre of Republicans in the U.S. House supported funding to make public transit available and to ensure that the EPA had enough money to do its job protecting our air and water. In the Senate, limiting methane pollution was the big bipartisan winner.

Unfortunately, with 145 of our federal decision-makers scoring 0 percent, it's obvious we have a lot more work to do to make sure our elected officials represent the majority of Americans who want to see a cleaner, greener, healthier planet for future generations."

Business

Underground Farm Pays Rent in Heat It Supplies to Building Above

Vertical farms have been touted as a way to feed a rapidly urbanizing world population (I've waxed poetic about them myself.) Critics of the trending technology, however, contend that these energy-intensive hubs are too costly and perhaps impractical to maintain.

Sure, the naysayers have a point, but what if vertical farms did more than just feed mouths? In Stockholm, Sweden, the Plantagon CityFarm located in the basement of the iconic DN-Skrapan building in the Kungsholmen district has a whole other purpose besides nourishing the office workers on site—the farm also recycles its heat to warm the offices above.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Herd of caribou on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Izuru Toki / Flickr

While America Focuses on Tax Bill, Congress Quietly Tries to Open Arctic Refuge to Oil Drilling

The U.S. Senate has passed a Republican tax-reform package that contains a provision to authorize oil drilling on the coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, placing the biological heart of one of our last pristine, untouched places in severe peril.

"This vote to deface and pollute one of the nation's last pristine and untouched wild landscapes is outrageous," said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, in a statement after the Senate passed the tax package. "The Arctic Refuge drilling provision has no legitimate place in a tax bill, and this backdoor political deal now threatens to destroy the crown jewel of our National Wildlife Refuge System."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

As World Warms, Heart-Breaking Video Shows What It Looks Like When a Polar Bear Starves

By Julia Conley

A video of a starving polar bear led to calls for climate change denialists to confront the real-world effects of global warming this week. Taken by a Canadian conservationist and photographer and posted to social media, the video offered a stark visual of the drastic impacts of climate change that have already begun taking root.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
Victoria Pickering / Flickr

The Mission of Scott Pruitt: End the EPA as We Know It

By Lukas Ross

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt headed to Congress for testimony before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the environment. The topic of the hearing? "The Mission of the U.S. EPA."

Since Pruitt has been incredibly sparing in his appearances on Capitol Hill, this is a rare chance to ask hard questions of the most controversial administrator in the history of the EPA.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular

Everyday Heroes and Thousands of Firefighters Step Up to SoCal Wildfires

As six large wildfires and several smaller fires burn across Southern California, firefighters, first responders and everyday Americans are stepping up—and risking their lives—to rescue fellow citizens, homes, buildings and animals from the blazes.

About 5,700 firefighters are battling the region's brushfires around the clock in intense heat and grueling conditions.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
Bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. pmarkham / Flickr

Lawsuit Launched Against Trump EPA for Approving Fracking Waste Dumping Into Gulf of Mexico

The Center for Biological Diversity filed on Thursday a formal notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for allowing oil companies to dump waste from fracking and drilling into the Gulf of Mexico without evaluating the dangers to sea turtles, whales or other imperiled marine life.

In September the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a Clean Water Act permit for new and existing offshore oil and gas platforms operating in federal waters off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The permit allows oil companies to dump unlimited amounts of waste fluid, including chemicals involved in fracking, into the Gulf of Mexico.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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