To: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

TAKE ACTION: Offshore Arctic Drilling Announced for 2014--Help Fight Back!

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Allowing oil drilling and development in the pristine and remote waters of America's Arctic Ocean and the Chukchi Sea is a risky and unnecessary venture. The rush to allow oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean moves us away from a clean energy future that doesn't rely on dirty fossil fuels. It puts a sensitive ecosystem at unnecessary risk, threatening endangered and threatened species.

Alaska's Chukchi Sea provides vital habitat for polar bears, endangered bowhead whales, walrus, beluga whales, seals, fish, and marine birds. Alaska Native communities along the Chukchi Sea practice a subsistence way of life and have depended on the resources of this sea for their cultural and nutritional well-being for thousands of years.

This remote region is one of the least understood areas of the world, and government scientists agree that more data is needed to fully understand the impacts of drilling in this sensitive region. There is also broad agreement that an oil spill in these icy, remote waters cannot be effectively cleaned up and could, as the Deepwater Horizon spill showed in the Gulf of Mexico, devastate the region.

The Arctic is feeling the effects of climate change at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea will only lead to more unsustainable carbon pollution, furthering climate change and putting the Arctic--and the rest if the planet--at risk.

As your agency considers responses to the call for information, please also step back and reassess whether to open the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling. We cannot afford to open the Chukchi Sea to more oil leasing. The climate consequences are dire, and the risks to this vibrant but sensitive region are too great. Do not open the Chukchi Sea to more unsafe oil drilling that will only feed our unsustainable addiction to oil.

Why is this important?

Shell just announced a new plan to drill for oil in America’s Arctic waters in 2014. But it still hasn’t addressed embarrassing offshore drilling rig failures.

We’ve already watched the company lose control of two different drill rigs in less than a year, with one of them catching fire and the other one running aground off the coast of Alaska.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is asking for comments as it considers another lease sale for offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. Tell them the risks of drilling in the Arctic Ocean are far too great and we cannot afford to open Chukchi Sea to more oil leasing.

To add insult to injury, America’s Arctic is ground zero for climate change. It’s warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and if Shell and other Big Oil companies drill for oil in these remote waters, it would even further accelerate climate change.

Offshore drilling in the Arctic leads to a cycle that reinforces climate disruption. Not only would burning oil produced from the region pump more carbon into the atmosphere, but the drilling operations themselves would emit black carbon or soot that would be deposited on the ice, where it does the most harm. Soot causes heat to be absorbed rather than reflected by the ice. Because the Arctic ice cap acts like a refrigerator for the planet, less Arctic sea ice means a warmer planet and a change in climate patterns.

Drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean is not consistent with a responsible course to combat climate change, something the president has committed to in his second term.

Tell the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not to hold any more lease sales in the Chukchi Sea and to reevaluate current plans to drill in these remote waters.