Enviros Fundraise Off Shell’s Arctic Drilling Approval

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Environmentalists are so worried about Arctic drilling, they’re fundraising off the Obama administration giving Royal Dutch Shell the final approval to begin exploring for North Pole oil and gas.

Environmental activists at the Sierra Club used the news of Shell’s approval for Arctic oil exploration to send out a fundraising email, telling people they would match all donations given that day. The Club said these donations would go towards “visits with Hill staff, calls and letters from grassroots constituents like you, and protests like the ones that made national headlines in Seattle.”

“You have the power to turn today’s terrible news into a pivotal, energizing moment. We’ve done it before—together, we retired 200 coal power plants in just 5 years,” reads a fundraising email, signed by Club president Michael Brune, sent out Wednesday.

“Donate by 5 PM Thursday and your gift to protect the Arctic will be MATCHED $1-for-$1, up to $25,000. Help us make today the moment when we begin to win big against Big Oil,” the email reads.

On Wednesday, the Interior Department gave Shell the final approval needed to begin exploring for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Shell, however, can’t actually begin exploring for oil and natural gas until it gets safety equipment installed on its oil rig — the company recently found a gash in the side of the rig.

“Without the required well-control system in place, Shell will not be allowed to drill into oil-bearing zones,” said Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The government did restrict areas where Shell could drill in the Arctic, and the company won’t be able to simultaneously drill two exploratory wells at once. Shell also has other regulatory hurdles to overcome before it can drill.

Environmentalists heavily criticized the Obama administration earlier this year for giving Shell the initial approval needed to explore for polar oil. Shell’s previous attempt at Arctic oil exploration was beset by problems, the biggest of which was when the company’s rig was grounded during a harsh storm.

Activists are still heavily opposed to Arctic drilling. Greenpeace landed activists on the boat carrying an Arctic drilling rig on its way to Seattle. A prominent environmental leader even labelled President Barack Obama a “climate denier” for allowing Arctic drilling to move forward.

For years, oil companies have been looking to drill for oil in the Arctic. Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf is estimated to hold about 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Energy Department advisers have said accessing these reserves would help secure U.S. energy supplies and keep oil prices lower.

“With an estimated 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources and active exploration by countries like Russia, it’s critical that the United States set the standard for responsible development in the Arctic,” Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement. “America will only truly assume that role when it actively engages in developing its resources.”

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