Actor-turned-environmental activist Ted Danson faced a board of U.S. federal regulators on Tuesday (09Nov10), urging them to be cautious over plans to drill for oil off the Alaskan coast.
The former Cheers star testified before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement at a hearing to review plans for exploratory drilling in an area of the Arctic Ocean called the Chukchi Sea.
Plans to drill there have been fiercely criticised by environmental groups, who fear marine life could suffer and that the region's wild weather and lack of a deep-water port would hamper clean-up efforts in the case of a major oil spill.
Danson, who has been in Alaska filming new movie Everybody Loves Whales with Drew Barrymore, told officials more research needed to be done before drilling can be considered.
He said, "If you had done the science to begin with, maybe you would have said, 'You know what? Don't drill here, drill there. It has less impact on the environment, and you can still get your oil.'
"(The Inupiat Eskimo community has) been lifted up economically from oil money into a place where they can live in a much more sustainable way. And at the same time, their spiritual and cultural life depends on whaling... and they feel that may or may not be in jeopardy from this drilling."
The actor is a founding member of Oceana, a non-profit organisation which champions ocean conservation.