Ecological Importance and Human Rights Be Damned, Trump Admin Says Fossil Fuel Pillaging in Arctic Refuge Coming Soon

September 13, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Environmental and indigenous activists are hoping to make sure the Trump administration’s promise to soon sell oil leases in the previously protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is never fulfilled.

Republicans laid the groundwork for the fossil fuel leases in the refuge’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain in a “deplorable” provision in their 2017 tax law. The administration followed through in December with a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for granting the leases. And with a final draft EIS expected in August, an administration official said Thursday that an oil sale would happen before the year’s over. 

Speaking at an oil industry conference in Anchorage, Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash said, “Once we have a final EIS, we will be in a position to issue a record of decision and notice of lease sale. And that lease sale will happen in 2019.”

Among the issues at hand: the land is sacred to Gwich’in; it is the site of the planet’s longest land-based mammal migration—that of the porcupine caribou herd; extraction and exploration would disrupt other wildlife; and it would add fuel to the climate crisis.

A group of teachers and scholars wrote earlier this year about the potential threats, noting that the draft EIS failed “to address the ecological impacts of drilling”:

Given such impacts, oil giants including BP and Chevron were targeted during shareholder meetings this week, where demonstrators demanded they not drill in the public lands. Bank behemoths that would finance the extraction have been targeted as well.

Among those who wanted to deliver a message to Exxon at a shareholder meeting this week was Donald Tritt, a representative of the Gwich’in.

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