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Natural Resources Defense Council

Big oil is on a big mission in the Arctic.

In July 2015, the Obama administration cleared the way for Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling in the pristine Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast. Not. Good.

Although officials claim operations "must be held to the highest safety, environmental protection, and emergency response standards," not everyone's buying it. And for good reason.


Gorgeous, huh? This is Kotzebue Sound, which is part of the Chukchi Sea. Photo by Education Specialist/Flickr.

There are plenty of reasons why this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.

"Simply put, the Arctic may have oil, but the risks of drilling in the Arctic are too great," Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon wrote on July 30.

And in the Natural Resource Defense Council's magazine onEarth, Clara Chaisson laid out five reasons exactly why those risks outweigh any positives:

1. Oil spills: They're awful. There's a 75% chance a large one will happen with this new Shell project. A 75% chance.

2. The Arctic: a hellish place to clean up oil. Unpredictable, icy conditions and a lack of infrastructure up there means a spill would be difficult to take care of quickly.

3. Shell's track record in the Arctic: abysmal. From putting workers in unsafe conditions to contributing to illegal levels of pollution, Shell has whatever the exact opposite of a clean record is when it comes to operating in the Arctic.

4. The Chukchi Sea: filled with wildlife. Yeah, it's cold, but the region is home to many species that could be negatively impacted — including polar bears, who use the area as birthing grounds.

5. Climate change: This won't help fight it. This project will only further create an infrastructure that promotes carbon pollution for decades to come.

Here's where you come in. Because, believe it or not, you have something an oil company doesn't: a vote.

In a video produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), actor Robert Redford spelled out why we still have leverage over a corporation like Shell.

GIFs via NRDC.


You don't have to wait until election season. You can throw your support behind NRDC's efforts to keep the Chukchi Sea oil-free by signing this petition:

"Tell President Obama to act now to safeguard our natural heritage, our climate and our children's future by stopping Big Oil's invasion of the Arctic and put us on the path toward a clean energy future."

And then watch Robert Redford break down how we can stand up to big oil:

Photo by Stormseeker on Unsplash

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