Aug 30, 2015

Obama defends Arctic drilling while preaching destructive nature of climate change?

The Guardian [feedly]
Obama defended the drilling operation, saying: "We don't rubber-stamp permits."

The president had hoped to use his visit to showcase the changes unfolding in the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, the White House said.

"This is an issue that is very here and now," Brian Deese, a senior White House advisor told a conference call with reporters on Friday. "Near and above the Arctic circle the impacts of climate change are particular pronounced and Americans are living with those impacts in real time."

He said Obama would use the visit to draw public attention to those consequences: the retreat of sea ice, land loss due to melting permafrost and coastal erosion, increasingly severe storms and growing risk of wildfires.

 The oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer, the first of two drilling rigs Royal Dutch Shell is outfitting for Arctic oil exploration. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP
The president will also highlight the risks to Alaska's tiny coastal communities, some of which could be forced to relocate because of climate change. A number have already chosen to move but have no funds to do so.

But campaign groups said Obama was sabotaging his own mission by giving the go-ahead to Shell to hunt for oil.

"There is a very obvious contradiction between meaningful action to address climate change and continued exploration for remote and difficult hydrocarbon resources," said Michael LeVin, Arctic campaigner for Oceana.

"Moving forward with exploiting Arctic oil and gas is inconsistent with the Administration's stated goal and meaningful action on climate change."