INUPIAT ESKIMOS AND GREENPEACE GO TO COURT TO CHALLENGE BP AMOCO OIL DRILLING IN THE ARCTIC OCEAN
Lawsuit filed to protect the Climate and Subsistence Culture in the Alaskan Arctic
October 21st, 1999 – Greenpeace today joined Inupiat Eskimos living on Alaska’s North Slope to file a lawsuit to
challenge BP Amoco's drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska’s north coast. The groups and individuals are
taking the court action to protect the earth’s climate from the dangerous release of greenhouse gases from continued
production and burning of fossil fuels, and to protect the traditional Inupiat subsistence culture, which is critically
dependent on the marine and coastal resources of the Arctic Ocean.
The lawsuit involves BP Amoco’s Northstar project, the first offshore oil project proposed for the Arctic Ocean. The
suit challenges the federal government for permitting the project on the grounds that it lacks an adequate oil spill
plan and jeopardizes the marine and coastal environment of the Arctic Ocean, and the Inupiat subsistence way of life.
“This lawsuit is about stopping global warming at its source by stopping the irresponsible oil drilling in the Arctic
Ocean,” said Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace campaigner. “The science of climate change tells us that we cannot afford to burn
even one-quarter of all known fossil fuel reserves without risking dangerous levels of global warming. Against this
backdrop, it is irresponsible for the federal government to allow BP Amoco to open this new oil frontier to drilling,”
The Western Arctic is warming three to five times faster than the global average, , which is consistent with scientific
predictions that global will affect the polar regions first.
“Sunakkiniagniq Inuuniaqusiqput. Our life is our subsistence,” said Charles Edwardsen, Jr, an Inupiat Eskimo who resides
in Barrow, Alaska. For thousands of years, the Inupiat people have depended upon the Arctic Ocean for the whales, seals,
fish and polar bears that give us sustenance. The Arctic Ocean is our garden, and we cannot afford to have it
contaminated by oil spills and industrialization. This lawsuit is about protecting our subsistence resources and culture
for our children”.
If allowed to be built, BP Amoco's Northstar project would drill for oil from an artificial island six miles off
Alaska’s north coast. Oil would be transported ashore in a pipeline buried only six feet beneath the seabed. The safety
of subsea pipelines are untested and unproven in the Arctic Ocean, an environment of solid or broken ice for more than
nine months of the year, of extreme temperatures, harsh storms and months of darkness. If the Northstar project is
built, it opens the door for several other offshore drilling projects, and for leases and drilling throughout the entire
Beaufort Sea. Opening this new oil frontier will have grave consequences for the climate, the Arctic environment, and
the people who depend upon it.
The petition was filed against the Minerals Management Service in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San
end Kind regards,
For information please contact: Greenpeace International Press Office T: ++ 31 20 5249515 F: ++ 31 20 5236212