Royal Dutch Shell has big plans to drill for billions of oil in the Arctic of the coast of Alaska. However conservation groups and Alaskans have filed a legal claim to prevent drilling in the Chukchi sea this year. Two years ago the company paid $2.1 billion to the US Government for leases in the area. It is believed that the area contains a whopping 15bn barrels of oil and 76tn cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. It is also the home to endangered species of Whales, polar bears and rich fish stocks.
Environmentalists fear that further drilling will warm the arctic and increase the risk for oil spills that are almost impossible to clean. There is however a political push to find US sources of fuel and reduce dependency on foreign sources of energy. It is a catch 22 as Alaska depends on oil, about 40% of its tax revenue comes from it and every citizen gets oil royalties. The oil industry also gives $300 million to the University of Alaska, this is a sensitive issue for many.
Shell pledges to abide by whatever decisions are made and to cut down its air emissions. It is prudent to carefully plan and preserve wildlife and the fish in the area, while still extracting sources of energy.