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Kayactivists Across The Country Protest Arctic Drilling

‘Kayaktivists’ across the country take to the water and local parks to tell President Obama: It’s time to put an end to Arctic Ocean drilling

SHell No image Kayaks in front of Oil Rig

WASHINGTON – From Santa Barbara to Boston and from Florida to Alaska, hundreds of citizens banded together on Saturday for the “Shell No” Day of Action. With more than 20 events in 15 different states – which included speeches by a U.S. Senator, a Congresswoman, and numerous other local elected officials – the nationwide protest continued the “kayaktivist” movement that began in Seattle, and called on President Obama to stop Shell – or any other oil company – from drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

The “kayaktivism” movement began in May in Seattle when controversy erupted over whether Seattle should host Shell’s Arctic armada, including the 307-foot-tall Polar Pioneer drill rig. That protest sparked a national debate on the dangers of Arctic Ocean drilling.

Drilling in the Arctic’s remote waters is a dangerous proposition, and it poses additional risks to Arctic communities already experiencing adverse impacts from climate change. Arctic oil is 100-percent unburnable carbon and must stay in the ground to prevent further climate disruption. President Obama’s own advisers have warned that should leases in the Chukchi Sea be fully developed, there is a 75-percent risk of a “major oil spill” occurring.

The Shell No Day of Action adds to the growing chorus of calls demanding that America’s Arctic Ocean be taken off the table and protected from Shell and Big Oil’s rush to develop dirty fuels in the Arctic. More than 20 events were confirmed across the country, including a rally outside the White House.

Pictures from Saturday’s ‘Shell No’ Day of Action can be found at

Statements from “Shell No” Day of Action participants:

“Shell has proven over and over that it is unprepared to pursue drilling in the Arctic, which is why it is so irresponsible and reckless to allow it or any oil company to drill in Arctic waters. President Obama has committed to act on climate, but right now his actions are speaking much louder than his words and drilling in the Arctic is going in the wrong direction to fight climate change. If we’re to secure a healthy climate for our children and our children’s children, we cannot open up the Pandora’s box that is Arctic drilling,” said Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League.

“President Obama says he wants to do something about climate change. Well, it’s time for him to put his money where his mouth is and say no to Arctic drilling,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska Director, Center for Biological Diversity. “Oil drilling might make Shell rich, but it will impoverish the Arctic and everyone who depends on it. We’re here to tell the president that’s not acceptable.”

“We know that the Arctic Ocean’s fossil fuels must remain in the ground if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” said Earthjustice Staff Attorney Erik Grafe. “A spill here in these conditions could have calamitous consequences for the people and wildlife who call this region home, which should be too big a risk for our country to take.”

“Shell is possibly the most destructive corporation on the planet. It has done irreparable damage to people and ecosystems on every continent. Why should we believe the Arctic will be any different? On behalf of belugas and other unique Arctic species, we call on President Obama to say ‘Shellno’ to Arctic drilling,” said Danielle Grabiel, Senior Policy Analyst, Environmental Investigation Agency.

“At the southern end of the Trans-Alaska pipeline the devastation of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill haunts Prince William Sound to this day,” said Carol Hoover, Executive Director of Eyak Preservation Council. “Our herring fishery has not returned and there are killer whale pods and other wildlife populations not recovering twenty-six years later. There is no way to clean up a major oil spill anywhere on earth and much less in an extreme environment like the Arctic. The very idea that it would be possible to completely clean up a spill is dangerous fiction. It will take courage and vision for leaders and corporations to say NO to risking the fragile Arctic Ocean regions from foretold disaster and increased climate change. It’s time to demand Earth-yes!, Shell-no!”

“The American Arctic Ocean is one of the worst places to drill, but one of the best places to stand up to Big Oil and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground,” said Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner, Marissa Knodel. “President Obama has the power to stop Shell from turning the Chukchi Sea into an energy sacrifice zone and worsening climate disruption, and his climate legacy depends on him using that power.”

“President Obama must hear the growing number of Americans, from Alaska to Florida, who are standing up, paddling out, and voicing concern over Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic. In the face of the significant environmental and safety risks posed by drilling in the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean, Shell has proven itself to be reckless and incompetent for several years running,” said Mary Sweeters, Arctic Campaigner at Greenpeace. “The most recent example of this is the damage sustained to one of its icebreakers while navigating in Dutch Harbor in poorly charted, shallow waters, despite a deeper and more familiar route nearby. This sort of corner cutting demonstrates that Shell still doesn’t take the consequences of its actions in the Arctic seriously. Despite this, and despite Arctic drilling’s contradiction to President Obama’s climate plans, the Administration has granted the company almost all of the needed permits. This must stop now.”

“The large gash in Shell’s icebreaker is just the latest incident in a checkered safety record which provides zero confidence that Shell can be trusted to operate responsibly in such a remote, pristine, and challenging environment like the Arctic Ocean,” said Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters. “Drilling in undeveloped areas like the Arctic Ocean will mean locking in decades of new carbon pollution at a time when climate science tells us we need to quicken our transition to clean energy sources.”

“President Obama should listen to the growing chorus of Americans who are demanding that we stop Shell in its tracks, once and for all.” said Franz Matzner, director of the Beyond Oil Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Science isn’t something that allows you to choose only the parts you like best. Any serious plan to protect the health of this and future generations from climate catastrophe must heed the fact that we cannot continue going to the ends of the earth to extract every last drop of oil. There is no better place to start drawing that line than in the Arctic Ocean—our nation’s last pristine ocean.”

“This is a time for communities to come together and rally against a reckless company who disregards science and nature,” said Elisabeth Dabney, Executive Director, Northern Alaska Environmental Center. “Drilling in the Arctic Ocean increases threats to native culture, remote ecosystems and is in direct contradiction of the Administration’s commitment to immediate and effective climate action. This is a pivotal moment to shift our energy economy and we must do that by putting an immediate stop to extreme fossil fuel extraction.”

“The science and the economics are clear: there is no room for Arctic oil in a climate safe future – this high risk, high cost, high carbon project is reckless from start to finish. Letting Shell go to the ends of the earth for even more fossil fuels when most of the coal, oil, and gas we already have access to has to stay in the ground is nothing short of climate denial,” said Hannah McKinnon, Senior Campaigner, Oil Change International.

“The Presidents own advisers have warned that there is a 75 percent likelihood of a major oil spill if anyone drills in the Arctic, and the science warns that the continued development of dirty fuels will increase the effects of climate disruption. Shell’s record of screw-ups in the Arctic would be comic if the results were not potentially so tragic. It’s time for President Obama to preserve his environmental legacy and pull the plug on Shell before the company does any further damage to the environment – or themselves,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

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