Arctic Oil Drilling: Good News for Environmentalists

Arctic drillingIn this May 16 photo, activists opposed to Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean prepare their kayaks for the “Paddle in Seattle” protest.

Environmentalists who battled Arctic oil drilling by paddling kayaks, dangling from bridges and climbing onto rigs at sea have claimed a high-profile success against Shell and aim to funnel the resulting enthusiasm into other fights against fossil fuels.

Shell is abandoning its long crusade to find crude in the waters north of Alaska after disappointing results at a critical test well in the Chukchi Sea. While the company cited financial reasons for the pullout last week, the move nonetheless has emboldened environmental activists to fight against everything from Atlantic drilling to oil exports to additional activity in the Arctic.

“This is a victory that becomes a springboard for a lot of potential change,” said Franz Matzner, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Beyond Oil Initiative. “It is an encouraging sign to everyone who is concerned about the drilling, transporting and burning of fossil fuels that are putting our communities and climate at risk.”

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