Exploração petrolífera no Árctico
Signe Wilkinson, «Philadelphia Daily News»
Ed Pilkington no The Guardian escreve sobre a recente decisão da administração Obama em permitir à Shell a exploração petrolífera no Árctico, ao largo da costa do Alasca. Grupos de ambientalistas acusam a administração Obama de cometer os mesmo erros da de George W. Bush ao permitir a exploração off-shore de petróleo e gás natural na área do Mar de Beaufort, uma zona protegida e habitat de muitas espécies em perigo:
[…] Environmentalists condemned the decision to allow drilling, saying it would generate industrial levels of noise in the water and pollute both the air and surrounding water. […]
The question of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic was one of the controversial environmental issues that confronted the Bush administration. Its permission for exploration in the Beaufort Sea, widely condemned by environmentalists, was struck down last year by a federal court on grounds that it had failed sufficiently to consider the impacts on bowhead whales and the subsistence activities of Inuit populations.
The ruling was later set aside and Shell withdrew its drilling plans.
According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, there are between 30,000 and 50,0000 bowhead whales in the world, with up to 9,000 of them feeding in the Beaufort Sea. The whales migrate twice a year through the area and are crucial to the subsistence economy of the Inupiat people.
Whale experts warn that the bowhead stocks are sensitive to noise and could be driven further off shore by the disruption of drilling. That in turn would have an impact on their chances of survival, which have already been harmed by early side-effects of global warming.
There are also fears that any drilling could lead to oil spills which would be impossible to clean up amid the Arctic’s broken sea ice.