US: Arctic Refuge oil and fuel lease sale set for early January | US & Canada
Environmental groups criticize the Trump administration’s announcement as a threat to pristine wildlife in Alaska.
The Trump administration has announced plans to sell oil and gas leases to part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) next month. According to information from environmental and indigenous groups, this threatened the vast game reserve in Alaska.
In a statement Thursday, the United States Bureau of Land Management said the lease sale for the ANWR coastal plain would be livestream on January 6, just days before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden.
“Congress has directed us to hold leases in the ANWR coastal plain and we have taken a significant step to announce the first sale before the statutory deadline in December 2021,” said Chad Padgett, Alaska State Director of the Statement.
“Coastal plain oil and gas are an essential resource in meeting our nation’s long-term energy needs and will help create jobs and economic opportunity.”
President Donald Trump approved exploration for oil and gas in the ANWR coastal plain in 2017, although conservation advocates, indigenous communities, and some U.S. lawmakers have long spoken out against it.
The ANWR spans more than 7.8 million acres of land and water in northeast Alaska.
The coastal plain is an important point on the herd of porcupine caribou migrations that the indigenous nation of Gwich’in relies on, whose members live in communities in the United States and Canada.
The leaders of Gwich’in have campaigned for years to protect the ANWR from oil and gas development. They said this would harm the caribou herds and irrevocably change their way of life.
Oil companies offering lease sales for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should prepare for a tough legal battle with high costs and reputational risks
The Defenders of Wildlife advocacy group rejected the office’s announcement on Thursday, describing the proposed lease sale as “destructive” and “unlawful”.
The organization said oil and gas drilling in the coastal plain is also threatening polar bear habitat in the southern Beaufort Sea.
“Any oil company offering lease sales for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should prepare for a tough legal battle with high costs and reputational risks,” the group’s President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark said in a statement.
“Defenders will not stand by when the government ravages land sacred to indigenous peoples, wipes out one of the most endangered polar bear populations in the US, and industrializes the crown jewel of the national wildlife protection system.”
Ellen Montgomery, campaign leader for public land at Environment America, another advocacy group, also said the decision was “the latest outrage” in the Trump administration’s treatment of the ANWR.
“With the“ everything must go ”mentality, they try to stop sales in one of our most famous countries. It’s absolutely wrong, ”said Montgomery in a statement.