Big Oil’s Next Stop: The Arctic

Big Oil’s Next Stop: The Arctic

Deep water oil spills, shallow water spills, bursting pipelines: there’s got to be a safer way to fulfill our energy needs.


“While the technology exists to drill at 5,000 feet, we have absolutely no clue what to do or how to do it when something goes wrong," says Nation Washington Editor and Rachel Maddow Show guest host Christopher Hayes. "We have learned that a mile below the sea is a very difficult and dangerous place to drill for oil, but we must still meet our energy needs, right?" How about shallow water drilling? If something goes wrong there, we know how to handle it and cap the spill. Except for Tuesday’s incident where a barge crashed into an abandoned oil well off the southern coast of Louisiana, which the US Coast Guard estimates will take 10-12 days to stop. “There’s got to be a less environmentally disastrous way to meet our energy needs.”

There’s always hydraulic fracturing—or "fracking"—which involves pumping highly-pressurized water, sand and some mysterious mixture of chemicals into the ground to force natural gas to the surface. "But ya know what’s also in the ground?" asks Hayes. "Water…water we drink." According to Michael Klare, professor, author and Nation Defense Correspondent says "we’ve been extracting oil and natural gas and coal for a very long time," so most of our easy-to-reach oil fields have been depleted. All that’s left is drilling deep off shore in places like the environmentally fragile Arctic region. "Any kind of oil spill there would have devastating consequences for wildlife," warns Klare.

—Melanie Breault

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