This from the Defenders of Wildlife:
As a supporter of Defenders of Wildlife and someone who is concerned about polar bears, sea turtles and other marine wildlife, I am writing to urge the Obama administration to reconsider its pursuit of risky offshore oil drilling as it formulates the 5-year outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing plan.
Allowing increased drilling in our Arctic waters poses an unacceptable risk to threatened polar bears, walrus, bowhead whales and other wildlife living in this area. There is currently little scientific information about the Arctic Ocean's fragile marine environment -- and the effects that drilling or a disastrous oil spill would have on this sensitive area.
Furthermore, there is currently no viable method or plan to clean up a major spill in this remote and often treacherous ocean.
These waters are prone to hurricane-force storms, 20-foot swells, pervasive sea ice, frigid temperatures and months of long darkness. There is no proven method of oil cleanup in these extreme conditions. What's more, the Arctic has extremely limited infrastructure to support any emergency cleanup efforts with no deepwater ports, only a handful of small airports and the nearest Coast Guard station 1,000 miles away from proposed drilling sites.
Administration officials themselves have expressed concerns about spill response in the Arctic. Former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich said that in the Arctic "spill response is a question."
Similarly, Admiral Robert Papp, the top officer at the U.S. Coast Guard, recently told Congress that if the Deepwater Horizon disaster was "to happen off the North Slope of Alaska, we'd have nothing. We're starting from ground zero today."
Even though the administration's proposed schedule delays new Arctic lease sales for a couple of years, ostensibly to remedy these flaws, this still puts the cart before the horse. These lease sales should be removed entirely until this essential information and cleanup capacity is in place.
Beyond the Arctic, the administration should also ensure we have the science and capacity to make sure drilling is done in a way that is safe for wildlife. After Deepwater Horizon, President Obama stood before the American people and promised that drilling under his watch would be cleaner and safer, yet drilling in the Gulf continues to proceed with little meaningful environmental review -- risking another tragic disaster in the region.
I urge you to heed the lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and abandon plans to open the fragile and treacherous Arctic Ocean to drilling, and slow leases in the Gulf of Mexico until risks to our marine environment and the wildlife that lives there can be reduced to an acceptable level.