Earlier this month, the Department of the Interior approved Shell Oil Company's plans to drill exploratory wells off the coast of Alaska in 2012. The move marks an important step toward opening up Alaska's outer continental shelf—one of world's most pristine and inhospitable marine environments—to oil and gas development. What are the risks to Arctic ecosystems? Have cleanup efforts improved since last year’s gulf oil spill? And what impact will the decision have on drilling elsewhere around the globe?
Join us for a live chat on this page at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 18 August, to ask Michael Macrander, Shell's leading ecologist in Alaska, and Henry Huntington, science director at the Pew Environment Group's arctic program, about the environmental risks and energy benefits of drilling in the Arctic. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts.
Dr. Michael Macrander is the Science Lead for Shell in Alaska. Dr. Macrander has more than 30 years of experience as an ecologist investigating environmental impacts and restoration of natural systems altered by human and industrial activities.
Henry Huntington is Arctic Science Director for the Pew Environment Group. He has over 20 years of Arctic experience, studying various aspects of human-environment interactions in the region, including traditional knowledge of the environment, impacts of climate change, social and economic effects of oil and gas activities, and Arctic biodiversity.