The call came yesterday, April 24, in a letter signed by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D- Ariz., joined by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. Jared Huffman, D-CA. “As BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) itself previously recognized in excluding the region entirely from offshore oil leasing in the 2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program, the harsh and fragile Arctic Ocean is incompatible with expanded offshore drilling,” they said. “A major oil spill in this unique ecosystem would occur more than a thousand miles from the nearest Coast guard station, with the threat of sea ice in all seasons, subzero temperatures, storms, fog and complete darkness up to 20 hours a day.”
The letter cited last year’s report by the US Global Change Research Program, which claimed the world must substantially reduce net global carbon dioxide emissions prior to 2040 relative to present day values to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Expanding oil development in areas like the Arctic Ocean, where any oil would not come to market for decades “even if it were discovered and could be developed safely, harms our nation’s urgent need to transition to a low carbon future,” they said.
Zinke announced in early January his plans for the 2019–2024 leasing program.