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Halt To Alaskan Oil Drilling

Shell announced plans to postpone the planned oil drilling in Alaskan Seas, a move which has been met with general acceptance.

Being either genuine or deceitful, Shell cited the failure of the oil spill-containment dome in preliminary tests as the reason for the delay, and went on to say it would be irresponsible to begin drilling into the oil-bearing zones of the seas under such conditions.

However, Shell was accused of conducting only the most limited preliminary safety tests on its vessels, which made many environmental groups uncomfortable and upset.

Additionally, the testing was done in calm waters, which further damaged the credibility of the dome and of Shell when failure occurred.

In an interesting twist, neither the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA, nor the Department of the Interior have any information about the failed tests, but are investigating; Shell pulled the plug based on their own testing. Finally, Shell had already been racing against the clock to begin drilling in time to meet the regulations set by the federal government, so the failure of the oil containment-spill dome was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Regardless of the motives or agendas behind postponing the drilling, the Alaskan Seas have secured safety from any potential oil disaster for another year, until Shell can begin oil drilling operations again.

Environmental groups have been quick to celebrate the drilling delay and to criticize Shell for the failed tests and machinery, but many are missing the point. The Alaskan Wilderness League and the Natural Resources Defense Council both attacked Shell as a corporation and institution, instead of using this opportunity to once again remind the public of the inherent recklessness of oil extraction, especially in an area and ecosystem which is already damaged and endangered.

In fairness, the AWL did mention the dangers of oil drilling, but it was in the context of attacking Shell. Instead of attacking Shell, the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a gaping wound, oil drilling must be accepted as too dangerous to be viable, effectively stitching the cut.

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