WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama must withdraw permission to explore for oil and gas in the Arctic given developments in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the WWF said.
A massive oil spill headed toward the U.S. Gulf Coast prompted an environmental response not seen since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.
William Eichbaum, vice president for Arctic and marine policy at the World Wide Fund for Nature, noted that the industrial and federal response, as well as temperate weather conditions, offer the "best possible set of circumstances" to handle the spill from BP's sunken Deepwater Horizon platform.
"As terrible as this situation is, the impacts would be far worse should this spill have taken place in the harsh and remote environment of the Arctic, where violent storms and thick ice would make it nearly impossible to effectively respond to even a minor oil spill," warns Eichbaum.
The WWF said it was renewing its call for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Arctic until environmental risks are better understood.
"We once again call on the Obama administration to withdraw permission for the petroleum industry to begin exploration in the Arctic, scheduled for July of this year, pending a full environmental impact review," he said. "We also urge the Obama administration to cancel the leases in Beaufort and Chukchi seas that were issued by (U.S. President George W. Bush)."