“Shell No!”: Fighting Shell Oil’s Bid to Drill the Arctic

May 19, 2015

As far as climate change is concerned, all eyes are on Paris, where the UN Climate Conference will converge this December. The hope is that the conference will produce a deal that leads all countries to radically reduce their carbon emissions— with the goal of keeping warming below 2° Celsius.

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Oil is a crazy commodity. The biggest fossil fuel companies will go to extremes to drill and tap wells— even in the Arctic Ocean, widely cherished as one of the world’s last true wildernesses. And there’s no guarantee of success. Despite investing billions, Royal Dutch Shell’s efforts to drill here ended in a spectacular disaster when their Kulluk oil rig ran aground in late 2012, without having pulled out a single barrel of oil.

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Photo: Lisa Ramsden

President Obama’s own administration issued a report citing that drilling in the Arctic would result in a 75% likelihood of one or more large spills. So when he announced earlier this spring that he would approve Shell’s return to oil and gas exploration in the arctic, activist organizations sprang into action.

Greenpeace activists boarded the “Polar Pioneer,” Shell’s new arctic offshore drilling rig, as it was towed past Hawaii en route to Washington state in early April— dropping a banner imploring the world to 'Save the Arctic'. More Greenpeace activists met the Polar Pioneer when it stopped over in Port Angeles, Washington, while over 1,000 people showed up to protest Shell’s bid to set up home base for their arctic drilling fleet in the Northwest’s biggest city port. The city of Seattle had requested that the port submit an updated land use permit before the Shell fleet docks and begins work at Seattle’s Terminal 5. But by mid-May, Shell had moved their rig in anyway, despite the Port Commission’s own request to stay out while the Port deals with the municipal ruling — leading to a large coalition of groups, including Greenpeace, to plan even more protests on land and in the water. Just this past weekend, 200 'kayaktivists' took to kayaks and canoes to surround the oil rig in protest.

With the situation still unfolding in Seattle, it’s plain to see that the impact of drilling in the Arctic outweighs the potential benefits. And those “benefits” are more of the same dirty fossil fuels that scientists are warning us we’ve simply got to leave in the ground in order to avoid cooking the planet.

More fossil fuels are not part of this solution. And making a mess of one of the planet’s most pristine environments to get at them? Well, that just doesn’t add up.

You can join Greenpeace’s courageous efforts to shine a spotlight on Shell’s short-sighted, and very dangerous, plans.