Today, conservation and Alaska Native groups headed to federal court to legally challenge Shell Oil’s plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer. Leases to drill in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas were approved by the federal government in October and December of 2009 and authorize drilling to begin as early as this July. Shell proceeds with these plans despite the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf, and despite the lack of clean up technology should a similar crisis occur in Arctic waters.
Karla Dutton, Alaska director of Defenders of Wildlife said, “As the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf has very clearly demonstrated, the time to test a back-up plan or safety technology is before drilling starts, not once a spill has occurred. Oil companies must not be allowed to operate in areas as ecologically fragile as the Arctic, particularly when there are no proven, effective spill safeguards in place.”