over the weekend, Shell Oil lost control of its 571-foot drill rig – while at anchor in Dutch Harbor, AK.
I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Shell’s “Noble Discoverer” is still hundreds of miles away from the Arctic – where conditions are often described as the most extreme in the world – and the oil giant is already having problems.
It turns out that this isn’t the first time this has happened with the “Discoverer,” one of the oldest drill rigs in the world. Just last year, in New Zealand, several of the ship’s anchor lines snapped in a storm. It was months before the ship was deemed seaworthy again.
But that’s not all.
The Obama administration has called Shell’s plans top-notch. Yet Shell has already broken one promise after another and the drilling hasn’t even begun. There is still time for government experts, like those at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to stop the disaster that Shell’s Arctic drilling is shaping up to be.
Will you sign our petition asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to not give Shell any waivers to pollute in the Arctic?
Broken promise #1: Late last month, Shell revealed that its Arctic drilling fleet can’t meet the pollution limits it already agreed to when EPA granted its necessary permits. Amazingly, Shell has known since 2010 that there were problems, but it chose to wait until just days before planned drilling was supposed to commence to let the EPA know. And, instead of agreeing to fix the issues, Shell is asking the EPA to rewrite the rules and let them move forward with drilling this summer.
Broken Promise #2: Shell promised that it’s oil spill recovery barge, the “Arctic Challenger,” would be able to withstand a 100-year storm, and the Coast Guard is trying to hold the company to that promise. But Shell recently disclosed that the 37-year old barge can only withstand a 10-year storm, a standard it believes to be sufficient.
Broken Promise #3: Shell’s oil spill response plans include an “assumption” that it can recover 95 percent of any oil spilled in the ocean. This recovery rate has never come close to being achieved in any spill – the total cleanup rate for Deepwater Horizon was approximately 25 percent. Recently, when it was called on this outrageous “assumption,” Shell started backtracking, suggesting that what it actually meant is that it will be able to “encounter” 95 percent of any oil spilled. One Shell spokesman went so far as to say that when it comes to potential Arctic oil spill cleanup, “it would be rather ridiculous of us to make any kind of performance guarantee.”
Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Don’t change the rules for Shell.
Shell’s drilling fleet hasn’t reached the Arctic. There is still time for the Obama administration to stand up for America’s Arctic Ocean and the Inupiat people as well as the polar bears, walrus, ice seals, beluga and bowhead whales and other beloved species of wildlife that depend on it.
Before we hear one more of Shell’s broken promises, we must demand that Obama’s EPA stand up to Shell and say: If you can’t follow the rules, you shouldn’t be allowed to drill in our Arctic Ocean.
Weeks away from starting the first major offshore drilling operations in the Arctic, Shell is pulling a major bait and switch - telling the EPA it's drilling rigs can't meet the air pollution rules the company had already agreed to in order to get a drilling permit.1
Shell has known since 2010 they would have problems meeting the rules. But officials still told the EPA they could. Now Shell wants the EPA to weaken the rules at the last minute?
This bait and switch is the latest in a long list of broken promises, walk-backs and mishaps which should serve as clear signs to the Obama Administration that allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster.
It's clear that Shell simply cannot be trusted. The company's last minute request gives EPA the option to cancel Shell's permit. That's exactly what EPA must do.
Sign a petition telling EPA it's time to draw a line in the sand and reject Shell's permit to drill. Learn more and add your name here:
This from EarthJustice:
Shell Oil has made an eleventh-hour request to move forward with its drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea even though it would violate its Clean Air Act permit. I respectfully urge the EPA to deny this request and stand firm on the approved air pollution limits stated in the permit until it can decide whether to issue a new permit that complies with the law.
Shell admits that if it is allowed to drill this summer under a temporary compliance order, its operations will emit nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter pollution in quantities that violate its current permit. The EPA should decline Shell's reported proposal to negotiate a compliance order that would make it possible to operate under a permit it will violate, especially when Shell has withheld information about possible violations for more than a year. Please prevent Shell from performing its planned unlawful polluting activities and revoke the permit now.
If changes are made to the permit, the law mandates a public review process. EPA should revoke the current permit or at least prevent operations until EPA can determine whether Shell's proposed weaker limits would comply with the Clean Air Act. Americans want the EPA to uphold the Clean Air Act and do the right thing.
I urge the EPA to exercise its authority to prevent Shell from its planned air-polluting activities this summer. Please withhold any authorization to operate and pollute until a new final permit decision is issued--one consistent with the law and the Clean Air Act.
Shell Oil has just asked the EPA for a really BIG favor: give Shell a last-minute "pass" on complying with the Clean Air Act so that they can start drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer.
Even though Shell has known for more than a year that its Noble Discoverer drilling rig would not be able to operate cleanly enough to comply with its air permit, the company has waited until now to ask for a last-minute, emergency order to operate this summer. Very sneaky...
Urge EPA Administrator Jackson to hold Shell accountable to its existing permits and to the law!
Shell's vessels are currently anchored off Alaska, poised to steam towards the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean. Final permits and thick sea ice have delayed this summer's drill season, but Shell is still pushing to begin this year.
The good news is now we have a chance to shut down their Arctic drilling operation once and for all. In response to Shell's last minute plea to the EPA to weaken their air pollution standards, the EPA could in turn use this opportunity to cancel their permit to drill.
Ask EPA Administrator Jackson to repeal Shell's permit to drill.
The Arctic waters Shell aims to drill in are home to threatened polar bears, endangered bowhead whales, walrus, seals, birds, and many species of fish. Drilling in these waters threatens these animals and the vibrant indigenous Alaska Native culture that depends on a healthy Arctic Ocean, both already under stress from rapid climate change.
If that wasn't enough, Shell's clean-up barge was deemed inadequate by the Coast Guard, but Shell is refusing to upgrade it AND one of Shell's drilling rigs recently almost ran aground after an anchor failed to hold!
27,580 of you have already spoken out against Shell's Arctic drilling plan this year and now we need your help again for one last push to protect the Arctic.
The EPA should NOT be doing any special favors for Shell Oil – urge the EPA to repeal Shell's permit to drill.
Unless it's replaced with something better - like single-payer - repealing Obamacare will make life miserable for millions of Americans.
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