Letter: Arctic oil spill response depends on cooperation with Russia

A great article by Jennifer A. Dlouhy of Hearst Newspapers in ADN on April 24 stated, “United States is ill prepared to tackle oil spills in the Arctic … the National Research Council reported.” It stated, “Extreme weather conditions and sparse infrastructure … more than 1,000 miles from the nearest deep-water port would complicate any broad emergency response. Ice in those remote oceans can trap pockets of oil, locking it beyond the reach of conventional cleanup equipment and preventing it from naturally breaking down.” Already, Shell has stopped operations there following marine mishaps.

Near-term, no drilling in Arctic waters is possible, without reliance on an existing fleet of Russian icebreakers during spill emergencies. To boost our ability to tackle spills there, and to provide adequate year-round icebreaking capability, I suggest we expand our existing bilateral pact with Russia to include China (now building a huge icebreaker ship) to allow joint Arctic spill and rescue exercises, and research. Instead, placing sanctions against Russia really hurts Alaska and the U.S., and should be reversed.

— Daniel N. Russell