Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Obama Goes 'Back to the Future' with Shell in the Arctic

Energy
Obama Goes 'Back to the Future' with Shell in the Arctic

Greenpeace International

By Dan Howells

Today, the U.S. Government approved Shell’s oil spill response plan for the Beaufort Sea, a remote expanse of ocean that must count as one of the most wild and untouched places on earth. This is the second response plan to get the official thumbs up, another clear sign that the administration has forgotten history in its determination to approve Shell’s 2012 Arctic drilling program.

As Shell’s executives beamed at the cameras and politicians shook hands with vigorous enthusiasm, I couldn’t help thinking about the ruptured Exxon Valdez tanker, churning its dark payload of toxic pollution into the pristine Arctic water all those years ago. The shadow of that disaster looms large over Shell’s plans and the government’s enthusiastic support for new drilling, while Alaska still deals with the consequences of that terrible day in 1989. Oil that was pumped from the ground in the same year that Marty McFly was introduced to America is still washing up on our shores today. Talk about back to the future.

Fast forward 23 years, and the Obama administration has approved a spill response plan that relies on unproven technology, outlandish gadgets and an unspoken confidence that the worst will never happen. Even after all these years, the oil industry still gets the benefit of the doubt from politicians too timid to point out the absurdity of plans that would make Doc Brown blush.

The simple truth is that no company on earth can deal with an oil spill in icy water, and none can promise that such accidents won’t happen. Today, our Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, told the country that in his mind the Arctic is expendable, a distant wilderness that is worth risking to fend off frenzied Republican attacks over gas prices. Despite the fact that Arctic drilling won’t make any lasting differences to prices at the pump, our politicians have become so obsessed with sounding tough on domestic oil drilling that they’ve chosen to put political expediency above true leadership.

Thankfully, hundreds of thousands of Americans think differently. They know that the only way to deal with high gas prices is to cut our addiction to oil and accelerate the clean alternatives that will get us out of this mess. They know, too, that this is set to become one of the defining environmental battles of this, or any era. This time it must be forward to the future.

For more information, click here.

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less