STATEMENT: CAP’s Conathan on the Department of the Interior’s 60-Day Review of Arctic Drilling

Washington, D.C. — Today, in response to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s release of its high-level 60-day review of Shell’s problem-filled 2012 Arctic offshore drilling season, the Center for American Progress released the following statement from CAP Ocean Policy Director Michael Conathan:

Asking Shell to go back and create a “comprehensive plan” for its drilling operations proves what we already knew: that the company was ill-prepared to operate in this harsh, remote, and unstudied environment. If five years of a permitting process and nearly $5 billion in private investment wasn’t sufficient to develop such a plan before operations began, there is little reason to think the outcome will be any different this time around. The fact is the Arctic outer continental shelf is not suitable for offshore oil and gas exploration, and no further permits should be issued for drilling operations in the region.

As CAP has detailed numerous times, the region lacks even the basic infrastructure—roads, railroads, ports, a permanent Coast Guard facility, and adequate facilities to house and feed responders—that would be necessary to mount a large-scale response to an oil spill or other major incident. These obstacles, coupled with the extreme and volatile conditions in which companies would be operating, led the insurance giant Lloyd’s of London to warn companies that responding to an oil spill in a region “highly sensitive to damage” would present “multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.” And Total SA, the fifth-largest oil and gas company in the world, announced that it wouldn’t seek to drill in the Arctic because an accident there would be a “disaster.”

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