DRILLING IN THE ARCTIC
Response from President Barack Obama
The White House, Washington
Thank you for writing. The Arctic is a unique and fragile environment where the ocean sustains both people and wildlife, and I have acted to protect some of its most important areas. I have made Alaska’s Bristol Bay off-limits to drilling, along with 10 million acres in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and I have called for even greater protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Additionally, my Administration is taking unprecedented steps to address climate change by accelerating our transition to cleaner energy sources and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. We are also working with other nations to advance cleaner energy technologies, enhance energy efficiency, promote best practices for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, and aid developing countries in increasing their own resilience to climate change.
Still, we must recognize that we cannot complete this transition overnight, which means we will continue to rely partly on fossil fuels. I understand the risks of offshore drilling, and that is why my Administration has overhauled Federal oversight and raised the bar on safety across the board—including by setting even higher standards for Shell in the Arctic. The Department of the Interior did not grant conditional approval of Shell’s exploration plan until having a high level of confidence that they would meet all applicable requirements. Shell still needs to secure additional approvals in advance of taking action, and if they move forward, the Administration will monitor their activities carefully to ensure full compliance with a strict set of environmental and safety regulations.
Again, thank you for writing. It’s up to all of us to protect our planet, and I’m confident that together we can meet the environmental challenges of our time.