-- The Obama administration’s conditional approval for Shell to resume drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean is a major victory for the Anglo-Dutch oil giant and a crushing defeat for environmentalists.
"If something bad were to happen we won’t be able to clean it up correctly," Donaghy said before adding that a spill would have "terrible consequences for both the ecosystems and the people living up there who rely on those ecosystems for subsistence."
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency that approved Shell’s plan for drilling in the Chukchi Sea, admitted in a February report that there was a “75% chance of one or more large spills” occurring in the area over the next 77 years.
BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement, “We have taken a thoughtful approach to carefully considering potential exploration in the Chukchi Sea.”
“As we move forward, any off shore exploratory activities will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards.”
Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman, said in a statement, “The approval of our Revised Chukchi Sea Exploration Plan is an important milestone and signals the confidence regulators have in our plan.”
Obama’s announcement Monday came three years after Shell left the arctic because of a series of safety and operational problems, including a nearly disastrous grounding of the Kulluk oil rig, which had to be towed to safety in late-2012. The rig ran aground off the coast of Alaska because of the company’s “inadequate assessment and management of risks,” according to a report released by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Given Shell's troubled history in the Arctic, our government agencies need to look more critically at these proposals and take the time needed to make sure that all the necessary protections are in place,” Mike LeVine, pacific senior counsel for the environmental group Oceana, told ABC News.
In 2013, the Interior Department concluded that Shell had failed to meet a wide range of basic safety requirements and ordered the company to halt drilling until all safety issues were addressed.
“Shell helped melt the Arctic and now they want to drill in the thawing waters; it beggars belief that the Obama administration is willing to abet what amounts to one of the greatest acts of corporate irresponsibility in the planet’s history,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org an environmental advocacy group, said in a statement.