STATEMENT: CAP’s Conathan on the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Approval of Shell’s Oil Spill Response Plan for the Beaufort Sea
Contact: Christina DiPasquale
Washington, D.C. — The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement today issued an approval of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s Oil Spill Response Plan for the Beaufort Sea and Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
We appreciate the administration’s commitment to holding Shell to rigorous standards when drilling in the fragile and untested Arctic. Still, it’s surprising and disappointing that the Department of the Interior will allow drilling activity to continue through the end of October, when it specifically cut short Shell’s Chukchi Sea operations 38 days earlier because of concerns about severe weather and icy conditions. The raging winds and encroaching ice will be no less severe in the Beaufort than they will be in the Chukchi.
While the Department of the Interior and Shell have taken critical steps to enhance safety and preparedness, the fact remains that with the nearest permanent Coast Guard facility over 1,000 miles away, no major roads, railroads, or ports along the North Slope, and extreme and unpredictable weather patterns, any coordinated response effort would be daunting—a challenge that increases exponentially in a longer drilling season. For this reason, we recommended shortening the duration of the drilling in our recent report, "Putting a Freeze on Arctic Ocean Drilling: America’s Inability to Respond to an Oil Spill in the Arctic," which includes a map detailing the lack of resources and existing infrastructure to respond to an environmental disaster off the North Slope.
This decision follows the administration’s approval of the Oil Spill Response Plan for the Chukchi Sea last month and is being heralded by Shell as a “major milestone” in their effort to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer.
- Read Putting a Freeze on Arctic Ocean Drilling: America’s Inability to Respond to an Oil Spill in the Arctic
- View map Oil spill response capacity in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico
To speak with Michael Conathan, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or email@example.com.
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or email@example.com
Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or email@example.com
Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.481.8142 or email@example.com
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or email@example.com
Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or firstname.lastname@example.org