Don’t Let BP Play Russian Roulette With the Arctic
Although it has helped cause the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history in the Gulf of Mexico, BP now has the audacity to propose testing new drilling technology in the fragile Arctic Ocean. This is an especially troubling proposition when we consider BP’s poor safety record in Alaska. BP has a history of flouting environmental and safety regulations in its Arctic operations. In 2006, BP’s failure to maintain its aging pipelines led to the worst oil spill ever on Alaska’s North Slope. BP has been the object of a number of investigations and enforcement actions in Alaska over the past decade. As recently as April 20, 2010 (the same day BP’s well in the Gulf exploded), the federal pipeline safety administration sent BP a warning letter about corrosion issues in the company’s Alaska pipelines.
If something were to go wrong in the Arctic, BP simply would not have the ability to deal with it. No one does. There is an utter lack of infrastructure and technology to deal with an oil spill in the Arctic. BP’s drilling location is extremely remote: The nearest Coast Guard station is more than 1,000 miles away. There is no technology for cleaning oil on ice, and the poor visibility and frequent storms of the Arctic would make responding to a spill extremely difficult.
What’s at stake is an environment that is both singular and fragile. The Arctic is already reeling from the effects of global warming. Species such as polar bears and walruses are losing their sea-ice habitat at an alarming rate. BP’s Liberty project is in the heart of polar bear territory. If an oil spill were to happen at the wrong time it could be disastrous for the Beaufort Sea’s struggling polar bear population.
The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups have called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to say no to BP’s Liberty project until proper environmental reviews can be completed. The decision about whether to risk destroying the Arctic as BP has destroyed the Gulf is in Secretary Salazar’s hands. Please tell the secretary not to let BP drill in the Arctic.