The Arctic Ocean presents unique challenges to oil and gas drilling that should not be underestimated.
Before exploration and production drilling proceeds in Arctic waters, the Department of the Interior and other agencies must ensure that requirements are in place to control and contain a spill in Arctic marine conditions and to protect the fragile ocean and coastal ecosystems. The key issues that must be addressed include:
- the need for research and data collection to provide an understanding of Arctic species, ecosystems and environmental conditions, and the impacts of oil spills in that environment;
- the need for candid risk assessments and imposition of risk prevention measures;
- identification of the response gap (shortfalls in spill response systems) and spill prevention measures that must be in place to mitigate that response gap.
- enhanced and vigilant oversight by government agencies and citizens to reduce the possibility of oil spills.