After spending $7 billion drilling offshore of Alaska’s Arctic coast, Shell hit a dry hole and announced they were pulling out of arctic exploration for the foreseeable future [“Shell move dims oil prospects, delights environmentalists,” News, Sept. 28 ].
Shell’s decision gives us all a chance for an Arctic reality check. The Arctic is a remote, dangerous and expensive place to do business. It’s also home to some of our nation’s most long-lived communities and rich marine ecosystems.
We need to reconsider a realistic, responsible approach to Arctic economic development. Protection of fishing, hunting and other local community concerns should be prioritized. Sensitive Arctic marine areas should be adequately protected from industrial impacts. The region should be prepared with sufficient means to prevent and respond to spills or shipwrecks.
Melting ice in a changing climate may have made offshore Arctic drilling attractive. But a multibillion dollar dry hole is another reminder of why we would be better off making the transition to cleaner energy alternatives.
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Kevin Harun, Anchorage, Arctic program director Pacific Environment