Oceana founder and board member Ted Danson attended a hearing and presenting public testimony to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement on Tuesday, November 9.
Danson is a long-time ocean advocate, who recently spent time in the Arctic. His testimony focused on the lack of basic scientific information about the Chukchi Sea ecosystem and the lack of response capabilities in the event of a spill.
“If you had done the science to begin with, maybe you would have said, ‘You know what? Don’t drill here, drill there,” he said. "It has less impact on the environment, and you can still get your oil.’
“[The Inupiat Eskimo community has] been lifted up economically from oil money into a place where they can live in a much more sustainable way. And at the same time, their spiritual and cultural life depends on whaling… and they feel that may or may not be in jeopardy from this drilling.”
A coalition of Alaska Native, conservation, and community organizations, including Oceana, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Alaska challenging Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193. The court found that the Department of the Interior violated the law by failing to adequately account for missing scientific information and the potential for natural gas development.
Rather than taking a hard look at the missing information, the government issued a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that simply papers over the problems. The Tuesday night hearing was the public’s opportunity to weigh in on the draft document and the lack of science and preparedness in the Arctic.