Oil and Gas Activities
Between 2000 and 2008, the area available to offshore oil and gas activities in Alaska waters increased eight-fold – from 9.4 million acres to 77 million acres. During those years, the Bush administration initiated oil development at an unprecedented pace and scale in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the U.S. Arctic Ocean, as well as Bristol Bay in the southeast Bering Sea.
Oil and gas activities pose significant environmental risks that include: potential oil spills, noise pollution, toxicological impacts, physical impacts and socioeconomic impacts. Before such development proceeds, more scientific research must be done to understand the impact of climate change on the Arctic. Comprehensive planning – including adequate consultation with indigenous communities – must take place to prevent environmental damage. Adequate response capabilities and infrastructure must be in place to deal effectively with emergencies such as oil spills.