This Friday, President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order aimed at opening up protected waters in the Arctic Ocean to offshore drilling. The order would direct the Secretary of the Interior to revisit an Obama Administration plan that would have put those waters off limits to drilling through 2022. Such a move would begin to fulfill a central campaign promise to unleash a new wave of oil and gas drilling.
Please join me in cosponsoring the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act (H.R. 1784). This legislation would protect America’s sensitive Arctic Ocean from the devastating effects of offshore drilling in the Arctic.
The Department of Interior estimates a 75% of one or more large oil spills as a result of drilling in the Arctic. Should an oil spill occur, between 44% and 62% of spilled crude oil would remain in open water or broken ice longer than 30 days, neither dispersing nor evaporating.
The Arctic region is home to one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, extreme and treacherous conditions, and severely limited capacity to respond to an oil spill or accident. The site of the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced, the Deepwater Horizon explosion, was approximately 132 air miles away from the nearest Coast Guard Station. In contrast, proposals by Shell Oil Company to drill in the Chukchi Sea are over 900 air miles from the nearest Coast Guard station in Kodiak and over 1,200 miles from the nearest deep-water port in Dutch Harbor.
Specifically, this legislation:
Acknowledges that global climate change is occurring due largely to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and will continue to pose ongoing risks and challenges to the people and the government of the United States;
Recognizes that in order to manage the Arctic Ocean for the best interest of the people, the United States must, in part, keep fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change;
Prohibits new leasing for the exploration, development or production of oil, natural gas or any other minerals in the Arctic Ocean; and
Prohibits the renewal of any existing leases for the same.