Shell receives green light for arctic drilling

July 27, 2015 0 By Amanda Giasson

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Royal Dutch Shell was granted two final permits to begin its exploration for oil in the Arctic.

Last Wednesday, the multinational oil and gas company, Royal Dutch Shell, received conditional approval to begin arctic drilling this summer in Alaska. The two permits were granted by the Obama administration’s Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement, and will allow the oil and gas giant to commence its exploratory drilling project in the Chukchi Sea, which is about 140 miles from the Alaska coast.

The conditions of the approval will place certain restrictions on Shell.

Although the company has been green lighted to being its explorations, it won’t have free reign over the Arctic. There are specific oil-rich areas that will be off limits to drilling for the time being, due to concerns regarding Shell’s safety equipment. Furthermore, the company is permitted to only drill one well at a time because its proposed sites are located too close to one another, reported ThinkProgress.

Environmentalists argue that arctic drilling is a bad idea and Shell shouldn’t be permitted to do it and nor should anyone else.

Arctic Drilling - Polar Bear in AlaskaIn an email statement, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Beyond Oil program, Franz Matzner, said that “Shell shouldn’t be drilling in the Arctic, and neither should anybody else.” Matzner added that “President Obama’s misguided decision to let Shell drill has lit the fuse on a disaster for our last pristine ocean and for our climate.”

Environmentalists believe that arctic drilling will not only accelerate human-induced climate change, but it will disrupt and could destroy the arctic’s sensitive natural environment, which is home to many endangered species, including the walrus and the polar bear.

Furthermore, Shell has done nothing to ease the concerns of its opposition. The company’s Arctic drilling attempts have a very unstable track record, which includes an accident that occurred back in 2012, when the company lost control of one of its rigs and 150,000 gallons of drilling fluid and fuel polluted one of Alaska’s coastlines.

The director of Environment America’s anti-drilling program, Rachel Richardson, said in a press release that Shell being granted approval “is a huge setback for climate action and the health of the Arctic.”

Although environmentalists still continue to fight to stop arctic drilling, for now, Shell is legally allowed to continue with its exploratory plans and hopes to start drilling at some point this month.