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More Than One Million People Urge White House to Stop Shell's Arctic Drilling

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More Than One Million People Urge White House to Stop Shell's Arctic Drilling

Center for Biological Diversity

More than 1 million people called on President Obama today to save the Arctic from oil drilling. Petitions with more than a million signatures were delivered to the White House, where citizens are gathering to ask the president to stop Shell Oil from drilling this summer.

“Shell’s ships are already on the way to drill in the icy Arctic waters, putting human life, polar bears and whales at risk in harsh, stormy conditions,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has worked for many years to keep offshore drilling out of the Arctic Ocean. “President Obama has a small window to stop Shell from spoiling the Arctic, and that’s exactly what people across the country are asking him to do.”

Citizens, Alaska residents and environmental leaders are gathering at noon at Lafayette Park to voice their opposition to Arctic drilling.

The Obama administration is now considering Shell’s application for permits to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska—the final permits needed before drilling begins this summer. A coalition of groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Alaska Wilderness League, will be participating in a May 16 event to deliver letters and petitions opposed to the drilling to the White House. More than 58,000 of the 1.1 million people standing together against Arctic drilling are Center supporters; dozens more have submitted video testimonials asking President Obama to say no to Arctic drilling.

“We should not be gambling with the future of the Arctic Ocean. Oil drilling in this pristine wilderness means risking oil spills that can’t be cleaned up, and it means more dirty fuels adding to climate change—both of which threaten to destroy the Arctic forever,” said Sakashita. The Center and allies have lawsuits pending challenging the government’s approval of Shell’s exploration plans and lease sales for Arctic drilling. Shell has also filed two lawsuits against these groups in an aggressive move seemingly designed to quash further challenges to its oil-spill response plan and marine mammal permits. 

For more information click here, and to see more video testimonials click here.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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