Letter to Interior Department calls for removal of lease sales in Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in Final Five-Year Drilling Program

Washington (June 8, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today called on the Obama administration to remove any lease sales in the Arctic Ocean from its Final Five-Year Drilling Program. Recent attempts by the oil industry to drill offshore in the Arctic have been marked by safety lapses and accidents, including Shell’s Kulluk drill rig running aground off the coast of Alaska in 2013. Shell has now said it does not plan to drill offshore in the Arctic “for the foreseeable future”, and it and other oil companies that have held drilling leases in the Arctic Ocean have now released the bulk of their leases.

“It does not make sense for the Interior Department to hold new lease sales in the Arctic at the same time that the oil industry is relinquishing its current leases and is in the process of pulling back from any plans to drill offshore in this region,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Drilling offshore in this remote, harsh and fragile environment has the potential to irreparably damage this ecosystem.”

A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.

Last fall, Senator Markey and eleven other Senators called on President Obama not to approve oil drilling off the coast of Alaska. In 2013, after Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig ran aground in Alaska, Senator Markey pressed Shell for answers about the incident and future plans to prevent another grounding. He also challenged Shell on whether financial concerns were a main driver in Shell’s decision on the timing of moving the rig, and later released massive safety violations found on Shell’s other Arctic drill ship.