If Oil Companies Get Their Way, 18 Environmental, Native Rights Groups Warn of 75-percent chance of ‘Major’ Oil Spill, 100-percent Chance of ‘Climate Disruption’

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2015) – A broad coalition of environmental and native rights groups today placed a new full-page ad in USA Today calling on President Obama to stop Big Oil’s assault on the Arctic Ocean’s natural heritage and our climate – and instead, embrace a clean energy future.

The ad, attached, comes as Shell renews efforts to sink its drills in the Arctic Ocean, our last pristine ocean. With the Department of Interior poised to approve Shell’s heedless effort to return to its existing oil and gas leases – and even approve new leases – President Obama must step in to terminate the plan. Without intervention, Arctic Ocean drilling could begin as early as this summer.

The ad comes days after the fifth annual remembrance of the BP Deepwater Horizon, a disaster which continues to harm the Gulf Coast region’s environment and economy.

Arctic drilling’s climate risks are prominently featured in the new ad. If Big Oil drills in the Arctic, we would “lock in carbon pollution that drives climate chaos,” the ad states, referring to how absent government intervention, massive new investments in opening up currently inaccessible oil and its associated carbon emissions are likely to worsen climate change.

The ad is running in the Washington, D.C., and Seattle markets. Please feel free to reach out to the media contacts above for a jpeg or pdf of the ad.

The ad’s sponsors are: Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Parents, Earthjustice, Eyak Preservation Council, Friends of the Earth, Green For All, Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, Labor Network for Sustainability, League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oil Change International, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, Sierra Club, and 350.org.

Following are statements from representatives of organizations sponsoring the ad:

“Approving offshore drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean is climate denial,” said Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International. “This is 100% unburnable carbon and if the administration really understands the science, this high risk, high carbon, high cost oil must be left in the ground.”

“There’s no better place than the pristine Arctic Ocean for the president to stand up and say no to Big Oil,” said Franz Matzner, director of NRDC’s Beyond Oil initiative. “The risk to the Arctic environment is too great. The chance of an oil spill is too high. And the science is crystal clear: Arctic drilling locks us into climate disruption.”

“The Arctic Ocean is the most challenging environment in the world for offshore drilling,” said Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe. “Arctic Ocean drilling is far too risky and endangers our ocean and its wildlife, and local communities, all while guaranteeing a continued dependence on fossil fuels that harm the health of the world and further accelerate climate change.”

“We need to learn how to make a living on a living planet, and we need to get busy creating a common vision for a sustainable future for the planet and its people,” said Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability. “Drilling for oil in the Arctic is the wrong path. We can create climate-friendly jobs and put everyone to work while at the same time saving the planet from climate catastrophe.  Climate change is the real job killer.”

“Arctic drilling is exactly the type of fossil fuels project that global scientists agree cannot go forward if we hope to avoid catastrophic climate change and leave a real legacy for future generations,” said Greenpeace USA Arctic Campaign Specialist Mary Sweeters. “The good news is that ordinary people from Seattle to Washington, D.C., are standing up to companies like Shell who only see climate change impacts as a gateway to new profits.”

“We value our traditional foods above all and the risk of offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean is too great a threat to our Indigenous Peoples,” said Elisabeth Dabney, Executive Director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. “The Arctic Ocean is the gathering place for these foods and they help define an entire culture. To keep drilling out of the Arctic Ocean would be a decision to preserve a way of life and minimize the already destructive effects of climate disruption.”

“We can’t trust Shell or any other Big Oil giant with our natural treasures, like America’s Arctic Ocean,” said Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League. “President Obama should say no to Shell’s dangerous and dirty drilling plans. The risk to our climate and to the wildlife and people that depend upon America’s Arctic Ocean for their way of life is just too great.” 

“Just last week the U.S. took over as the chair of the Arctic Council. Now is the time for Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration to show leadership on climate,” said Dan Ritzman, Alaska Program Director for Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. “The risk of allowing drilling to proceed in the Arctic – to our climate, communities, and environment, is too high to ignore. We must keep these dirty fuels in the ground.”

“It is unconscionable that the federal government is willing to sacrifice the health and safety of the people and wildlife of the Chukchi Sea to Shell’s reckless pursuit of profit,” said Marissa Knodel, Climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “The Obama administration should know better: we deserve a clean legacy that leaves fossil fuels in the ground, not another toxic legacy from Big Oil.”