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New Anti-Drilling Bill Sets the Stage for July 18 Arctic Day of Action

17 Jul 2015  |   Gloria Zhang

Tags: Arctic

As Shell awaits its final permits from the Obama Administration and barrels toward the Arctic with its armada of drill ships, the company is encountering a wave of opposition to its irresponsible plans to drill our last pristine ocean.  The latest example is legislation introduced Thursday by Senator Jeff Merkley called the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act – a bill that would prohibit the development of new or renewed leases for oil and gases in the Arctic Ocean. 

The legislation, cosponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Al Franken (D-MN), comes two days before a nationwide Day of Action on Saturday, July 18, saying #ShellNO to Arctic Ocean drilling. 

“A spill in the Arctic would be an environmental catastrophe of extraordinary proportions - and such a spill is inevitable if drilling proceeds,” explained Merkley. “The ecosystem in the Arctic is too fragile and the ability to respond to a spill in this region is nonexistent. Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is the height of irresponsibility. We need to put it off limits, permanently.”

Shell is currently in the midst of repairing its icebreaker the Fennica, one of the key vessels from its fleet, which suffered a 39-inch gash in the hull while traveling along the Alaska shoreline, in what some are calling yet another example of Shell’s “risk-prone behavior”. The company had previously suffered similar mishaps in the Arctic in 2012 when the Kulluk ran aground.  LCV and other conservation groups recently urged the Obama Administration not to allow Shell to drill in the Arctic without the presence of the Fennica, which—according to Shell’s exploration plan—will play an essential role in keeping ice at bay during drilling operations and cleaning up any spill that occurs.  

As Shell awaits its final permits from the Administration, people from across the country will be taking part in the nationwide “Shell No” Day of Action on July 18th and telling President Obama to block drilling in the Arctic Ocean before it’s too late. Events will be held in cities and towns from Juneau to San Francisco and from Chicago to just outside the White House. A full list of locations can be found on this website.  

If you can’t make it to an event, join us on social media by taking a picture with this sign on a kayak, boat, surfboard, canoe or anything else water-related and include the hashtag #ShellNO when you post it online.

The Arctic is home to some of America’s most iconic creatures and pristine landscapes, and we simply cannot accept the risk of a spill in this spectacular environment.  What’s more, drilling in undeveloped areas like the Arctic Ocean will mean locking in decades of new carbon pollution at a time when climate science tells us we need to quicken our transition to clean energy sources. Join the movement as we seek to preserve this stunning area for generations to come! 

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