Playing Russian Roulette with Lower Cook Inlet
Over the last fifty years, U.S. waters  have been affected by almost 50 oil spills over 420,000 gallons.  A few of the most famous are:  Santa Barbara, California (1969): 3 […]
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Over the last fifty years, U.S. waters  have been affected by almost 50 oil spills over 420,000 gallons.  A few of the most famous are: 

Santa Barbara, California (1969): 3 million  gallons spilled from an offshore platform blowout creating a 35 mile long oil slick. 

Exxon Valdez, Alaska (1989): 10.8 million gallons spilled from a grounded oil tanker, with 1,300 miles of shoreline impacted, 250,00+ birds killed and $2.4 billion economic loss. Oil is still being found on beaches 32 years later. 

Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico (2010): 11 people killed. 210 million gallons spilled from an offshore oil rig explosion with 68,000 square miles directly impacted, over 1 million birds killed, increased stranded and dead marine mammals, serious health impacts to coastal communities, 25,000 lost jobs and $422 million lost in tourism spending in just Louisiana. 

This fall we watched the aftermath to wildlife, water and air quality and the local fishing economy from California’s Huntington Beach spill where “only” 127,000 gallons spilled from a rupture underwater pipeline leak. 

Many Alaskans remember the Exxon Valdez disaster, and still fear another large oil spill in Alaskan waters – affecting our wildlife, our fisheries, and our subsistence resources. 

In the recently released draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lease Sale 258 in Lower Cook Inlet, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) predicts the risk of one or more large spills (more than 42,000 gallons) is 19%. That is a one-in-five chance that at least 42,000 gallons of crude oil is spilled into Lower Cook Inlet–possibly more than once! This is more likely than playing Russian Roulette or rolling the dice. BOEM estimates a “very large oil spill”–more than 5 million gallons–is a “very low probability” event. The same probability the federal government estimated for an accidental subsea release of oil before the lease sale for the Deepwater Horizon. In fact, in that situation the government estimated that no spill would exceed 63,000 gallons and the oil would not reach the coast. 

Is a one-in-five chance we will dump 42,000 gallons of oil in Lower Cook Inlet a risk that is acceptable to you? Is it acceptable for our fisheries? Is it acceptable for those who rely on traditional harvest or subsistence? Is it acceptable for the bears of Katmai and Lake Clark? Is it acceptable for our endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales? Is it acceptable for our shorebirds who travel thousands of miles to reach our shores each year?

Inletkeeper does not believe this is acceptable. There are many other reasons why proposed Lease Sale 258 is not in Alaska’s best interest but  – even if this was the only risk – the cost is too high. 

Please join us in saying no.

Sign and share our petition: inletkeeper.org/ls258

Attend the public hearings this week

Tue, Nov. 16 – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM: Registration Link  

Wed, Nov. 17 – 2 PM to 4 PM: Registration Link  

Thu, Nov. 18 – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM: Registration Link  

We have talking points, a zoom session, and other information to help you feel comfortable testifying at: inletkeeper.org/leasesale258