Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) introduced legislation to stop offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. His efforts come in the wake of a series of setbacks for Shell Oil, including damage to its sea vessels en route to the Chukchi Sea, and a penalty from the Obama administration for failing to comply with wildlife protections. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) joined Sen. Merkley as original cosponsors of the bill.
Rikki Seguin, state director of Environment Oregon, issued this statement in response:
“We applaud Senator Merkley and all the bill’s cosponsors today for standing up for the Arctic Ocean against dirty drilling. Even the U.S. Government has acknowledged a 75 percent chance of failure if Shell moves forward with its plans. When you drill, you spill, and when you spill in the Arctic, the consequences are particularly devastating.
“The harsh conditions of this fragile ocean environment make a spill nearly impossible to clean up, risking polar bears, beluga whales, ice seals and other precious marine life that call the area home. Sen. Merkley said it best when he introduced his bill: ‘Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is the height of irresponsibility.’”