In the wake of the largest oil spill in United States history, President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made a vital move in “preventing the next offshore oil disaster” by instigating a moratorium on Deepwater offshore drilling in the Chukchi Sea, thus protecting the primary habitat of polar bears and other Arctic wildlife from Shell Oil’s perilous drilling plans.
In addition, he is expected to announce that all offshore oil drilling in the Arctic will be delayed for at least one year, as well as canceling all proposed drilling lease sales off the coast of Virginia and the western Gulf of Mexico. New Deepwater offshore permits will also be suspended for six months, although those for shallow waters will be allowed to continue.
Currently there is no technology that would allow for any clean-up in the Arctic’s frozen waters and broken ice should a disaster similar to the one in the Gulf of Mexico occur, and any oil spill there would have disastrous consequences on all life in the region.
While this is an important first step in protecting our wildlife and fragile ecosystems, a lot more needs to be done. Any amount of oil spillage in our oceans poses a threat to life on this planet, regardless of the depth.
The continuing tragedy off the Louisiana coastline is an important wake-up call to all countries (not just the United States) of how important it is for everyone to seek clean and renewable sources of energy and end our dependence on polluting fossil fuels.