Lois Epstein –
For those of us who have watched with dismay as the Obama administration moves forward with approval after approval of Shell’s oil drilling permits for the Arctic Ocean, there’s a logical disconnect:
Why would the administration allow drilling in the Arctic Ocean when there’s a reasonable likelihood of a disaster in the making ?
Consider these three critical concerns:
• Very few of the post-BP Oil Spill Commission’s and the National Academy of Engineering’s recommendations have been implemented, including no reforms to date by Congress.
• Our understanding of the region’s ecology and the impacts a major spill would have, including on subsistence, is greatly insufficient, according to the administration’s own study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Additionally, there’s no plan to remedy that problem.
• Spill “cleanup” technologies are primitive, with recovery of oil contacting the ocean measured in single-digit percentages.
The reforms that the former Minerals Management Service has enacted since the BP spill, while not insignificant, are nowhere near enough to ensure there will not be a major spill associated with offshore drilling in the Arctic.
We are not ready to drill there. Perhaps most important regarding Shell, the company had major offshore drilling-related spills in the North Sea in August and off Nigeria in December, both from low-tech problems that should never have happened.
These spills — the worst in a decade in each region — do not inspire confidence in the company’s ability to operate without problems and appear to show a poor company-wide “safety culture.”