Quantcast

Coast Guard Makes Dire Warning About Drilling in the Arctic

Popular
Greenpeace

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

By Jennifer Molidor

One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

Read More Show Less
Edwin Remsburg / VW Pics / Getty Images

Botswana, home to one third of Africa's elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.

"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pxhere

By Richard Denison

Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).

Read More Show Less
De Molen windmill and nuclear power plant cooling tower in Doel, Belgium. Trougnouf / CC BY-SA 4.0

By Grant Smith

From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brett Walton / Circle of Blue

By Brett Walton

When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Gabriele Holtermann Gorden / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.

This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.

Read More Show Less
Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice held a press conference after the annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

Amazon shareholders voted down an employee-backed resolution calling for more aggressive action on climate change at their annual meeting Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less