Nearly 400 scientists from more than a dozen countries signed a letter urging U.S. President Barack Obama to take the Arctic Ocean out of the next federal offshore lease sale plan, thus ruling out the possibility of offshore drilling in the Arctic in the near future.
Scientists from 13 countries have signed the letter saying global warming will be accelerated by burning oil found in the Arctic Ocean.
“No new oil and gas leasing or exploration should be allowed in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the foreseeable future,” the scientists said.
The proposed federal oil and gas leasing program would last from 2017 to 2022 and includes two sales in the Arctic Ocean: the Beaufort Sea in 2020 and the Chukchi Sea in 2022.
The letter urged the administration to consult native Alaskan groups on any further Arctic developments.
The scientists said in the letter that expanding Arctic marine protection would help counter the effects of climate change.
“The Arctic is home to vibrant communities of indigenous peoples, provides vital marine habitats for iconic wildlife such as beluga whales, walruses, and ice seals found nowhere else in the United States, and plays a critical role in global climate systems,” the letter said.
“The region is profoundly affected by climate change — including loss of sea ice, acidification of the ocean, and increased access for industries that pose significant risks to the ocean environment.”