Obama Administration Grants Shell Final Permits to Start Drilling in Arctic Ocean
Royal Dutch Shell was granted federal permits yesterday that clear the way for the oil company to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The U.S. Department of the Interior granted the permits for Shell to drill off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea.
— Irina Tikhomirova (@IrinaGreenVoice) July 23, 2015
The company is only permitted to drill the top sections of its wells because it lacks the equipment to cap the wells in case of emergency. The ice breaker carrying the required capping stack for the wells, is receiving repairs to its damaged hull in Portland, Oregon. The permits also restricts Shell to drilling only one well at a time, due to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulation.
This announcement comes on the heels of a nationwide protest last weekend where people in 13 states gathered for a “ShellNo” Day of Action asking President Obama to revoke oil and gas exploration leases in the Chukchi Sea.
Many environmental organizations are irate over the granting of the final permit to Shell. Here are several of their responses:
“This approval for Shell to drill in Alaska from the Obama administration is just the latest in a string of concessions for Shell, a company that cannot even make it to the Alaskan Arctic without significantly damaging its equipment," said Tim Donaghy, Greenpeace senior research specialist. "By opening up the Arctic to oil drilling, President Obama is courting disaster and undermining his legacy on climate change. The world cannot afford to burn Arctic oil, and the consequences of a spill would be enormous."
— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) July 22, 2015
“President Obama’s decision to undercut his climate legacy and allow Shell to drill in the Arctic Ocean goes against science, the will of the people, and common sense," said Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club. “The President ignored his advisors when they said that any drilling in the Arctic carries a 75-percent risk of a ‘major’ oil spill; he ignored the people as hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to come together and call on Obama to say ‘Shell No’ to drilling in the Arctic Ocean; and he ignored common sense as Shell continues to commit one reckless mistake after another."
“We’ve seen time and again, most recently just last week: when you drill, you spill. And when you spill in the Arctic Ocean, the consequences are all but irrevocable," said Rachel Richardson, the director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program. "The area is simply too fragile and too remote to ever fully recover from a catastrophic spill, and polar bears, beluga whales, and other wildlife unique to this precious area will pay the price.
"Today's action is a huge setback for climate action and the health of the Arctic. But in the long term, with the support of the public, we can protect our oceans from drilling and transition toward a 100 percent clean energy future."
Natural Resources Defense Council:
“Shell shouldn’t be drilling in the Arctic, and neither should anybody else," said Franz Matzner, director of NRDC’s Beyond Oil initiative. "President Obama's misguided decision to let Shell drill has lit the fuse on a disaster for our last pristine ocean and for our climate. Fortunately, Big Oil faces a long road before commercial production of Arctic Ocean oil begins. Any plan to combat climate change over the long term must reverse course in the Arctic now.”
— NRDC (@NRDC) July 23, 2015
"Today’s decision takes us in exactly the wrong direction—it puts an irreplaceable region, its people, and its wildlife directly in harm’s way and veers us off a course on addressing climate change,” said Erik Grafe, staff attorney at Earthjustice. "Drilling in the Chukchi Sea risks significant effects on walruses and whales in the rapidly warming Arctic Ocean even without an oil spill. And the science is clear, Arctic Ocean drilling is incompatible with avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Wrong as it is, this decision won’t stop the demand for change. We call on the Obama administration to show leadership and re-consider its course on Arctic Ocean drilling.”
Oil Change International:
“The Obama Administration should put Shell out of its misery," said Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. "They have wasted billions on the hunt for unburnable carbon and wreaked havoc on everything they come in contact with in their Arctic exploits."
Friends of the Earth:
"Today’s approval ignores Shell’s dismal record of safety violations and undermines President Obama’s pledge to combat climate change," said Marissa Knodel, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "With this decision, President Obama has given Shell an open invitation to turn the Chukchi Sea into an energy sacrifice zone, threatening both the resilience of the American Arctic Ocean and his climate legacy."
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Fertility issues are on the rise, and new literature points to ways that your environment may be part of the problem. We've rounded up some changes you can make in your life to promote a healthy reproductive system.
Infertility and Environmental Health: The Facts<ul> <li>Sperm count is declining steeply, significantly, and continuously in Western countries, with no signs of tapering off. Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, and women are facing increasing rates of miscarriage and difficulty conceiving.</li><li>Why? A huge factor is our environmental health. Hormones (particularly testosterone and estrogen) are what make reproductive function possible, and our hormones are increasingly being negatively affected by harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonplace in the modern world—in our homes, foods, and lifestyles.</li></ul>
What You Can Do About It<p>It should be noted that infertility can be caused by any number of factors, including medical conditions that cannot be solved with a simple change at home.</p><p><em>If you or a loved one are struggling with infertility, our hearts and sympathies are with you. Your pain is validated and we hope you receive answers to your struggles.</em></p><p>Read on to discover our tips to restore or improve reproductive health by removing harmful habits and chemicals from your environment.</p>
Edit Your Health<ul><li>If you smoke, quit! Smoking is toxic, period. If someone in your household smokes, urge them to quit or institute a no-smoking ban in the house. It is just as important to avoid secondhand smoke.</li><li>Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your caloric intake is right for your body and strive for moderate exercise.</li><li>Eat cleanly! Focus on whole foods and less processed meals and snacks. Studies have found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet is linked to increased fertility.</li><li>Minimize negative/constant stress—or find ways to manage it. Hobbies such as meditation or yoga that encourage practiced breathing are great options to reduce the physical toll of stress.</li></ul>
Edit Your Home<p>We spend a lot of time in our homes—and care that what we bring into them will not harm us. You may not be aware that many commonly found household items are sources of harmful, endocrine-disrupting compounds. Read on to find steps you can take—and replacements you should make—in your home.</p><p><strong>In the Kitchen</strong></p><ul> <li>Buy organic, fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/clean-grocery-shopping-guide-2648563801.html" target="_blank">Read our grocery shopping guide for more tips about food.</a></li><li>Switch to glass, ceramics, or stainless steel for food storage: plastics often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect fertility. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/bpa-pollution-2645493129.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Learn more about the dangers of plastic here.</a></li><li>Ban plastic from the microwave. If you have a plastic splatter cover, use paper towel, parchment paper, or an upside-down plate instead.</li><li>Upgrade your cookware: non-stick may make life easier, but it is made with unsafe chemical compounds that seep into your food. Cast-iron and stainless steel are great alternatives.</li><li>Filter tap water. Glass filter pitchers are an inexpensive solution; if you want to invest you may opt for an under-the-sink filter.</li><li>Check your cleaning products—many mainstream products are full of unsafe chemicals. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check out our guide to safe cleaning products for more info</a>.</li></ul><p><strong>In the Bathroom </strong></p><ul> <li>Check the labels on your bathroom products: <em>fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free</em> and organic labels are all great signs. You can also scan the ingredients lists for red-flag chemicals such as: triclosan, parabens, and dibutyl phthalate. Use the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank">EWG Skin Deep database</a> to vet your personal products.</li><li>Ditch the vinyl shower curtain—that new shower curtain smell is chemical-off gassing. Choose a cotton or linen based curtain instead.</li><li>Banish air fresheners—use natural fresheners (an open window, baking soda, essential oils) instead.</li></ul><p><strong>Everywhere Else</strong></p><ul><li>Remove wall-to-wall carpet. If you've been considering wood or tile, here's your sign: many synthetic carpets can emit harmful chemicals for years. If you want a rug, choose wool or plant materials such as jute or sisal.</li><li>Prevent dust build-up. Dust can absorb chemicals in the air and keep them lingering in your home. Vacuum rugs and wipe furniture, trim, windowsills, fans, TVs, etc. Make sure to have a window open while you're cleaning!</li><li>Leave shoes at the door! When you wear your shoes throughout the house, you're tracking in all kinds of chemicals. If you like wearing shoes inside, consider a dedicated pair of "indoor shoes" or slippers.</li><li>Clean out your closet—use cedar chips or lavender sachets instead of mothballs, and use "green" dry-cleaning services over traditional methods. If that isn't possible, let the clothes air out outside or in your garage for a day before putting them back in your closet.</li><li>Say no to plastic bags!</li><li>We asked 22 endocrinologists what products they use - and steer clear of—in their homes. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/nontoxic-products-2648564261.html" target="_blank">Check out their responses here</a>.</li></ul>
Learn More<ul><li>For more information and action steps, be sure to check out <em>Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race</em> by EHS adjunct scientist Shanna Swan, PhD: <a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">available for purchase here.</a></li><li><a href="https://www.ehn.org/st/Subscribe_to_Above_The_Fold" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sign up for our Above the Fold Newsletter </a>to stay up to date about impacts on the environment and your health.</li></ul>
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