Oil companies target the fragile Arctic continental shelf for oil drilling
You’re probably against drilling in the Alaskan Refuge, but what you really ought to be worried about is offshore drilling on Alaska’s continental shelf, which isn’t protected by law or by close attention from environmentalists — and where the likelihood and impact of accidents are far worse. Read Peter Matthiessen’s definitive piece in The Nation:
When one considers the more than four thousand spills — over one a day — recorded by the oil industry in its land operations in the last decade, and keeping in mind that offshore hazards are far greater, the inevitable accidents seem certain to accumulate into an ongoing and permanent calamity. A black effluvia of crude petroleum and drilling mud and chemical pollutants would spread inshore, suffocating plankton and invertebrates and bottom-dwelling fish and poisoning great stretches of Arctic coast with a viscous excrescence. The same toxic mixture will blacken the drifting ice, fouling the pristine habitat of Arctic birds, the Pacific walrus, four species of seals, and the beleaguered polar bear, while contaminating the migratory corridors of the white beluga and endangered bowhead whales — all this defilement made much worse by the grim fact that no technology has ever been developed for cleaning up spilled oil in icy waters.