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Letter: Committee didn’t get whole story on drilling in the Arctic

When he hosted a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in Anchorage this week, Sen. Mark Begich had an opportunity to let Alaskans hear the lessons learned from Shell’s Arctic Ocean drilling this past summer. What a shame the hearing lacked critical perspectives from those without a political or financial interest in continued Arctic Ocean drilling.

The committee needed to hear from those — including conservationists, insurers, and others — who believe that we are not ready to drill in treacherous, near-pristine Arctic waters.  This past summer’s errors and accidents by Shell, which kept the company from actually drilling for oil, reaffirm that view. Testimony before the committee by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Weather Service on their needs for infrastructure to ensure safe drilling further supports a “no oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean until we’re ready” position.

By not inviting testimony by conservationists and others, the hearing lacked the depth and diversity of opinions needed to make informed decisions that will affect the Arctic for decades to come.

— Lois Epstein

Arctic Program director

The Wilderness Society

Anchorage