Alaska Oil Drilling Climate Irony Revisited

In 2015, I noted that the then-Governor of Alaska had decided that it was necessary to increase drilling for oil in Alaska to raise the money necessary to cope with the impact of climate change.  I suggested that Governor Walker’s solution to the problem of funding climate adaption might be considered ironic. 

Welcome to the Department of Irony Department, also known as Alaska Climate Adaptation Rev 2.0.

The Bureau of Land Management has released the Willow Master Development Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for drilling in the northeastern area of the National Petroleum Reserve.  The EIS notes that drillers in Alaska’s North Slope are now preparing to chill the ground underneath certain areas of their project.  Why?  Because melting permafrost – a result of climate change – would otherwise render the drilling infrastructure unstable.

Let’s get this straight.  Climate change is melting the permafrost (which itself is a negative climate feedback loop, since melting permafrost releases methane, a powerful GHG).  The melting permafrost requires that the ground – in Alaska, which used to be known as a cold place – be chilled in order to maintain drilling infrastructure.

I’m only a poor country environmental lawyer, but I do know enough to say that the laws of thermodynamics make this a losing game.

Irony, thy name is Climate Change.