Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Obama Cancels Arctic Drilling Leases

Climate
Obama Cancels Arctic Drilling Leases

It just keeps getting better and better for the Arctic. First, Shell Oil pulled the plug on its horrific current drilling effort there two weeks ago.

Now the Obama administration has taken its first concrete steps to reduce future threats. Yesterday, it cancelled new lease sales scheduled for next year and 2017 in our Polar Bear Seas—the Chukchi and Beaufort—off the north Alaskan coast. And just said "No" to extension requests from Shell and others holding existing leases in the region.

Kayaktivists protest Arctic drilling in Seattle, Washington. Photo credit: Natural Resources Defense Council

This is big. Up to now, the federal government has treated Arctic Ocean drilling as a done deal. As recently as last May, the President tweeted: "we can't prevent oil exploration completely in region."

His administration focused on excluding some high value areas and saying drilling would be subject to high standards. It tentatively proposed to allow more leasing in the Arctic Ocean (and the Atlantic) after 2017.

But the tide has changed. Shell made a spectacle of itself, rushing to drill. Mother Nature asserted herself. Human error propagated in the harsh conditions.

Kayaktivists spotlighted Arctic drilling as a climate issue—rightly, because huge new investments in dirty fuels can't be harmonized with accelerating the shift to a clean energy future.

Shareholders demanded that Shell explain how its exploration policies squared with limiting damage from global warming. Again rightly, not least because of the likelihood that increasingly effective carbon regulation and affordable efficiency and clean fuel alternatives will "strand" fossil fuel assets, forcing companies to write them off.

Alaska Natives joined environmentalists to enforce protective laws when the federal government didn't, setting back efforts to jam through new drilling.

And yesterday, the Obama administration is starting to actively pull our energy policy away from the Arctic Ocean. Turns out drilling there may not be inevitable. "All of the above" was always a slogan, not literally a policy: there were always some places off the table. Now we have a real shot at adding the U.S. Arctic Ocean to that list—if we don't let up.

So hurrah for Obama, props to all those who raised their voices and/or their paddles, and let's keep on keepin' on.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

14 Reasons Why We Must Never Drill in the Arctic

Arctic Warming Produces Mosquito Swarms Large Enough to Kill Baby Caribou

10 Awesome Tweets From #ShellNo to Arctic Drilling Day of Action

Don’t Let Wall Street Leave You Behind: It’s Time to Divest From Fossil Fuels

Kaavan in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 4, 2020. Arne Immanuel Bänsch / picture alliance via Getty Images

With help from music icon Cher, the "world's loneliest elephant" has found a new home and, hopefully, a new family.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate change is causing leaves to change color and fall earlier in the year. Pxfuel

By Philip James

As the days shorten and temperatures drop in the northern hemisphere, leaves begin to turn. We can enjoy glorious autumnal colors while the leaves are still on the trees and, later, kicking through a red, brown and gold carpet when out walking.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kevin Russ / Moment / Getty Images

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.

Read More Show Less
Christian Aslund / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Anne-Sophie Brändlin

COVID-19 and climate change have been two of the most pressing issues in 2020.

Read More Show Less
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo

By Victoria Masterson

Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.

Read More Show Less