Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 23, 2012

Alaskans rally to tell EPA 'NO!' to Shell

Photo Alaska's Big Village Network
Alaskans Rally to tell EPA “NO!” to Shell

Censored News
Today: July 23, 2012

ANCHORAGE -- A group of concerned Alaskans are rallying outside of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Alaska Headquarters to demand that the agency uphold the Law and deny Shell’s request for a pollution waiver for its Arctic drilling project. This rally is held in conjunction with a rally of environmental organizations at EPA’s US headquarters in Washington, DC.

Shell is trying to obtain major changes to the Clean Air Act requirements for three different pollutants from two different sources, the Discoverer, and the ice-class oil spill response barge, the Nanuq. Shell is asking for EPA to completely do away with its limit on ammonia emissions, to triple limits on nitrogen oxide and to alter its limit for particulate matter.

"The Arctic Ocean is my garden," says Earl Kingik, Tribal Liaison for Alaska Wilderness League, "Please, no drilling in my garden."

The Arctic Ocean provides abundant food and rich cultural resources for the Inupiat. The toxic air pollution falls out into the Arctic Ocean, where it wreaks havoc on the ecosystem productivity and the welfare of Inupiat and all Alaska Native peoples that depend on migratory marine species. The particle pollution bioaccumulates in all organisms from the plankton to the marine birds, fish, whales, walrus, seals and ultimately this pollution adversely impacts the health of indigenous peoples and foremost, the Inupiat.

“EPA must ensure that meaningful and significant consultation occurs with Tribal Governments on significant changes to Shell’s permits,” says Delice Calcote, Executive Director for Alaska Inter-Tribal Council (AITC). AITC has a 2009 resolution opposing offshore exploration and drilling.

The Alaska Wilderness League and Pacific Environment were among 16 groups that sent a letter to EPA on Thursday, July 19th, calling on the agency to deny Shell's request and saying the company would be in violation of Clean Air Act regulations if EPA allowed the waiver.

“Shell has problems that are racking up, and they are backtracking on their promises to the coastal communities”, says Nikos Pastos, Environmental Sociologist for Center for Water Advocacy. “The US Government needs to take a critical look at Shell’s oil spill response capabilities in the harsh Arctic Ocean ice conditions.”

Shell’s drillship, Noble Discover, is being investigated by the US Coast Guard on how the ship narrowly averted disaster in Dutch Harbor last Saturday when it appeared to run aground. Questions remain about how this ship will handle Arctic sea ice as it barely avoided catastrophe in the non-ice waters of the Northern Pacific and Southern Bering Sea.

Shell also backtracked and downgraded its aging oil spill response barge, Arctic Challenger, to less stringent requirements in the event of a major storm as it continues to undergo construction in Bellingham, WA. The 38-year old barge that is set to ‘anchor’ between the Beaufort and Chukchi is clearly not up to design standards to handle extreme Arctic conditions.
Where: 222 W. 7th Ave (corner of C Street) Contact: Carl Wassilie, Alaska’s Big Village Network

When: 12pm- 1pm, Monday July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

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