Obama is leaving office and he’s clearly worried that the next president will ignore climate change and its effects on humanity. In order to stymie any damage that president Trump can do, Obama has passed a law that effectively bans ocean-based drilling for oil and gas in some areas. In support, Canada has passed a similar law that will ban arctic drilling. With fossil fuels becoming less profitable and alternative source energies getting cheaper the need to drill in precarious places become less tenable.
The ban affects 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of federal waters off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most of the Beaufort Sea and 3.8 million acres (1.5 million hectares) in the Atlantic from New England to Chesapeake Bay.
The White House and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jointly announced their move to launch “actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem.”
Obama said in a statement that the joint actions “reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”
Canada will designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.
For a while now Shell has been trying to suck oil in the arctic. Arctic drilling is extremely dangerous and Shell’s efforts in the north have been ridiculed by Greenpeace. Greenpeace’s efforts have been matched by a ton of organizations (mostly on the west coast) also trying to stop Shell’s folly.
The old-economy company based on hydrocarbon extraction has announced they’ll end their arctic drilling efforts. This means that the company wasted $7 billion dollars!
“Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “Big oil has sustained an unmitigated defeat. They had a budget of billions, we had a movement of millions. For three years we faced them down, and the people won.
Wikileaks has been a great source of information that governments and corporations wanted to deny or keep secret. Now Greenpeace has modelled a site, Arctic Truth, for whistleblowers who work in the world of arctic drilling for oil. As climate change turns the frozen north into accessible waters oil companies want to move in and further the reach of their harmful industry. Even people in the industry are realizing how dangerous it is to drill closer to the north pole than ever before and have started to speak up.
The website is intended to shield the identities of whistleblowers as part of an effort to attract those willing to report on problems. Vaguely modeled on Wikileaks, the site is intended to protect whistleblowers but whether that will be tested in the courts remains to be seen.
“We know there have been a lot of problems with Shell and other companies and we wanted to create a way for employees to feel safe and secure,” if they reported problems, Ms. Ferguson said.
Shell canceled its 2013 Arctic drilling program after both its drill ships experienced serious problems last year. Its big circular drillship Kulluk broke away as it was being towed south after the drill season and ran aground on Kodiak Island New Year’s Eve. It has been taken to Asia for repairs.