The Department of the Interior said last week that despite there being a 75 percent chance of causing a major oil spill while drilling in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, we should drill anyway, reported onEarth.
As onEarth noted, there are vast amounts of Arctic wildlife in the Chukchi Sea including “polar bears, ringed seal pups, as well as . . . loons, Pacific brant, murres, puffins, and bowhead whales.” However, the Department of the Interior says the danger posed to all this wildlife is a “‘reasonable balance’ between environmental and energy demands.”
The Department of the Interior has a reputation of putting together poor, hastily-made reports which claim to assess the environmental impacts of drilling in certain places. Since 2008, the department has had two “shoddy” assessments rejected by federal courts after being contested by environmental groups.
In one report, they completely failed to consider impacts of gas drilling. Another mistake involves the department grossly underestimating oil extraction amounts. According to onEarth, “since environmental-impact models are based on the volume of oil production, lowballing the oil understates the likelihood of environmental damage.”
Considering how remote and unforgiving the natural environment is in the Chukchi Sea, attempting to drill there is a fool’s errand. Scientists don’t even completely understand the area because it’s so remote, said Arctic protection attorney Erik Grafe.
If there’s an oil spill in that portion of the world, it will be nearly impossible to clean because conventional oil spill cleanup methods weren’t designed for extremely icy seas.
“Oil is going to flow where it’s going to flow,” said Grafe. “It will not respect special protected area boundaries, especially in the Arctic, where there is no way to clean it up.”
The Department of the Interior does not realize its own foolishness. They are saying it’s okay to drill in an area that hasn’t even been completely surveyed, let alone an area rich with wildlife. It is hasty actions based on foolish statements like this that cause disasters. Just ask BP.