Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Arctic Drilling Approval Threatens Obama's Climate Legacy

Climate activists have largely been praising President Obama lately, but his Arctic drilling decision could bring back the protesters. (Credit: Forward on Climate Rally via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The Obama administration's final approval of Royal Dutch Shell's drilling for oil in Alaska's Chukchi Sea provoked an angry reaction on Monday from environmentalists who had come to consider President Obama a champion in the fight against climate change.

The decision comes two weeks after the release of the United States' most aggressive attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions, known as the Clean Power Plan, and just days after Obama announced he will visit Alaska later this month to highlight the impacts of climate change, which he recently referred to as "one of the greatest challenges we face this century."

"I'm flummoxed," said Jamie Henn, co-founder and director of strategy and communications of the green group 350.org.  "Arctic drilling is so blatantly out of line with the President's stated goals that the only possible explanations seem to be that he truly doesn't understand the issue or that the White House is somehow convinced that the project won't go forward."

Obama has shown "historic leadership on climate change," said Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters.  "But his decision to allow drilling in the Arctic is at odds with everything else he's done."

"We are deeply disappointed," Taurel added.

Obama has been calling for America to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels since before entering the White House in 2008.  He told a crowd of journalists gathered at the Newspaper Association of America in 2006 that "unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe."
In January, Obama banned all future oil and gas lease sales in 9.8 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, including parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.  The ban, however, did not impact existing leases, such as Shell’s.

Read more at Arctic Drilling Approval Threatens Obama's Climate Legacy

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