Scientists and Environmental Groups Call for More Science Before Drilling in Arctic Ocean

A walrus female and pup on an ice floe in the Chukchi Sea, June 2010. Photo: Sarah Sonsthagen/USGS
Oceanographers Sylvia Earl and Paul Dayton think it’s a bad idea, as do more than 500 other scientists and numerous environmental groups: Energy development in the remote, often ice-choked waters off northern Alaska.
It’s a sentiment Audubon shares, and the organization has made it super easy for you to make your voice heard: Click here to tell the Interior Department the Arctic Ocean should be off-limits to drilling. Hurry—the deadline is 11 a.m. Eastern tomorrow, February 8.

The letter to President Obama featured in ads in The New York Times and Politico.

On November 8 Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to expand offshore oil and gas development, including proposed lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. In late January, more than 500 scientists signed an open letter (pdf) to President Obama, urging his administration to hold off on authorizing new oil and gas activity in the Arctic Ocean until experts better understand how proposed development will affect the sensitive ecosystems. The letter, spearheaded by the Pew Environment Group, urged the administration to follow the recommendations of a comprehensive 2011 USGS study and fill gaps in scientific knowledge that would inform the right places and the right ways in which to develop oil and gas resources in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. The Interior Department has already conditionally green-lighted Shells plans to explore for oil this summer in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
Related Stories:

On Thin Ice
In the face of climate change and offshore drilling, biologists are tracking walruses to better understand their behavior and protect the areas most important to them.
Polar Distress
A fascinating look at life in Arctic waters, from the tiny zooplankton to the baleen whales that miraculously turn krill into life-sustaining blubber.

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