Environmentalists Get Big Win As Shell Announces It Will Stop Drilling In Alaska

"That's incredible. That's huge."

Environmentalists scored a major win this week when Royal Dutch Shell announced it would no longer be pursuing exploration in Arctic waters off Alaska's coast.

The news comes after Shell spent more than $7 billion on offshore exploration in the Arctic and drilled 6,800 feet into earth only to come up with disappointing yields.

"That's incredible. That's huge," Margaret Williams of the World Wildlife Fund told the Alaska Dispatch News. "All along the conservation community has been pointing to the challenging and unpredictable environmental conditions. We always thought the risk was tremendously great."

Shell is now saying they will end exploration off the Alaska coast for the "foreseeable future," news that was welcomed by many who hold concerns about its environmental impact. Environmental groups have warned that more offshore drilling will increase emissions of greenhouse gases, raise the chance of an oil spill and threaten wildlife like polar bears. 

"Polar bears, Alaska's Arctic and our climate just caught a huge break," Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Here's hoping Shell leaves the Arctic forever."

The U.S. Geological Survey has previously stated that there is an estimated 23 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.  

Cover image via Karen Ducey/Getty Images.