Today, President Obama took to his new twitter account to answer some questions on his administration’s response to climate change. A noble effort to engage the public on an issue of paramount importance, to be sure.
Unfortunately, though, in an exchange regarding Arctic drilling, the President showed he simply doesn’t get it yet.
Here’s the question from an intrepid tweeter:
— Ben Alexander (@BigBennyFL) May 28, 2015
Note that the question focuses on how drilling in the Arctic impacts our climate crisis. A key question that we at Oil Change and our partners in Seattle and across the question have been raising for months. Unfortunately, the President’s response skirted this issue. His three-part answer was:
.@BigBennyFL 2/ But since we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in region we’re setting the highest possible standards
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 28, 2015
Ok, let’s break this response down.
First, the President notes that his administration has shut off drilling in some sensitive areas, such as Bristol Bay. That’s all well and good, and we support that. However, the administration has also opened up possible new offshore oil drilling off the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in other parts of the Arctic. Not good.
Second, the President suggests that oil drilling in the arctic is inevitable. Sorry, Mr. President but that is a #FAIL if we’ve ever seen one. The simple truth is that if we want to have any reasonable chance of limiting global warming to reasonable levels, oil in the Arctic must remain untouched. Viewing drilling for oil in the arctic as inevitable is essentially saying climate catastrophe is inevitable. You can’t say you care about climate change yet push forward on arctic drilling; that’s just denying the imperatives climate science presents us with.
Finally, Obama notes that the administration rejected Shell’s original proposal. Unfortunately they should have stuck with that decision, as many have noted that the current proposal — aside from the clear climate impacts of drilling for unburnable oil — includes a 75% chance of an oil spill, for which there is no adequate response and cleanup plan. Another simple fact about arctic drilling: oil companies, Shell especially, don’t know how to clean up oil spills in the arctic.
Today’s twitter chat with @POTUS shows us a couple things. First, the mere fact that he took a question on arctic drilling shows that the public is pushing for answers on this issue and that the President is feeling enough heat to be compelled to respond. That’s big, and an important indication of the success of so many people fighting against arctic drilling so far. Second, the President’s responses show that we still have a ways to go in our fight. Oil drilling in the arctic is NOT safe, is NOT climate-friendly, and most importantly is NOT inevitable. It’s time for the President to wake up to these facts.