Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tomgram: Subhankar Banerjee, Oil Follies in the Arctic

"[Note for TomDispatch Readers: As a companion piece to Subhankar Banerjee’s unique eyewitness report on how the search for oil in northern waters may destroy America’s Arctic ecology, let me suggest -- just in case you missed it -- Michael Klare’s recent TD post, “The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy.” Together, they offer an unparalleled picture of a global energy nightmare in the making. ]

Sometimes the future is filled with surprises. On other occasions, it can be painfully predictable. In the case of drilling for oil in the extreme reaches of America’s Arctic seas, the latter is the case. BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, growing worse by the hour, is a living lesson in what will happen, sooner or later, if America’s Arctic waters are opened to the giant oil companies. If their drill rigs arrive, rest assured, despoliation will follow; and barring the sort of quick action by President Obama or Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar that Congressional representatives are increasingly calling for, rest assured as well that they will come. Despite the sobering vision of BP's colossal mess in the Gulf, Shell Oil is reportedly “moving vessels and other equipment from distant locations, in preparation for assembling its Arctic drilling fleet” in Alaskan Arctic waters this summer to bore test wells. The company apparently has no second thoughts on the subject.

The difference between the Gulf of Mexico and those northern waters is this: the climate is far less conducive to clean-up operations. If Shell were to "BP" the Alaskan Arctic, despite its effusive claims for the safety of its drilling operations and similarly profuse promises that it’s ready to cap and clean the oil spills it essentially insists can’t happen, real help would be in short supply and a long way off." More>>>>

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