Quantcast
Popular
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Steven Chase, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Investors Controlling $2.5 Trillion Stand With Indigenous People Against Trump Plan to Drill 'Sacred' Arctic Refuge

By Julia Conley

An indigenous group was joined by investors controlling trillions of dollars in assets on Monday as they called for fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them to end efforts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—making clear that harming the protected land is bad for business as well as destructive to indigenous groups' land and the environment.


"We strongly urge banks and oil and gas companies to honor their fiduciary duty to investors and refuse to engage in drilling in the Arctic Refuge," the investors wrote. "We, as investors, encourage expanding support for the wide range of clean energy solutions and sustainable industries in Alaska, instead of helping to destroy this natural wonder."

The diverse group of investors included religious endowments like the Episcopal Church and the Dominican Sisters, asset management groups, and healthcare companies, whose combined assets amount to $2.52 trillion.

Their letter echoed grave concerns raised by environmentalists and the indigenous people of the area. About 7,000 Gwich'in people live near the refuge and rely on the caribou that roam there for sustenance. The local tribe calls the refuge "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins," and have demanded that the Trump administration protect the refuge from the fossil fuel industry instead of opening it to oil and gas development, as Republicans in Congress voted to do last December.

"It is both deeply unethical and unwise to permanently destroy lands vital to the culture and existence of the Gwich'in to pursue this high-risk gamble," wrote the Gwich'in Steering Committee in its own letter, which was co-signed by more than 100 green campaigners and indigenous rights groups. "Any oil company or bank that supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge faces enormous reputational risk and public backlash. Their brands would be associated with trampling on human rights, destroying one of the world's last remaining intact wild places, and contributing to the climate crisis."

The letters from the groups come after the Trump administration last month took its first major step toward opening the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development, when the Interior Department began its environmental review to determine the effects of drilling with the goal of beginning to sell drilling leases to oil companies.

"The Trump administration has made it clear that they've already made up their minds to sell off the Sacred Place Where Life Begins," Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, said in a statement. "Drilling in the Arctic Refuge would permanently destroy the primary food source of the Gwich'in people, our culture, and our way of life. Now we must call on oil companies and the banks that fund them to stand with the Gwich'in and leave this pristine and fragile place intact. The survival of my people depends on it."

More than 70 percent of Americans oppose drilling in the refuge, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a fact noted by both the investors and the Gwich'in Steering Committee.

"The Gwich'in, the American people, and, now, some of the world's most significant investors are demanding the Arctic Refuge remain the pristine and sacred place it has been for generations," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "Corporate polluters and the banks that fund them must decide if they want to side with the public, human rights and environmental advocates, and climate justice by pledging to stay out of the Arctic Refuge, or whether they want to lose the support of millions of people and trillions in funds while threatening the future of our communities and our planet."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Renewable Energy
A prototype of GE's massive new wind turbine will be installed in the industrial area of Maasvlakte 2 in Rotterdam. GE Renewable Energy

World's Largest Wind Turbine to Test Its Wings in Rotterdam

Rotterdam's skyline will soon feature the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine.

GE Renewable Energy announced on Wednesday it will install the first 12-megawatt Haliade-X prototype in the Dutch city this summer. Although it's an offshore wind turbine by design, the prototype will be installed onshore to facilitate access for testing.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Colorful, fresh organic vegetables. fcafotodigital / Getty Images

A New Diet for the Planet

By Tim Radford

An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, whole grains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor's orders, tomorrow's farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Children's books about the environment. U.S. Air Force photo / Karen Abeyasekere

This State Might Require Public Schools to Teach Climate Change

Reading, writing, arithmetic ... and climate science. That doesn't have the same ring as the "three Rs" of education, but Connecticut could one day require the subject to be on the curriculum, The Associated Press reported.

A Connecticut state lawmaker is pushing a bill to mandate the teaching of climate change in public schools throughout the state, starting in elementary school.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
NASA's ICESCAPE mission investigates the changing conditions in the Arctic. NASA / Kathryn Hansen

These Eye-Opening Memes Show the Real 10-Year Challenge

Before-and-after photos of your friends have probably taken over your Facebook and Instagram feeds, but environmentalists are using the #10YearChallenge to insert a dose of truth.

Memes of shrinking glaciers, emaciated polar bears and coral bleaching certainly subvert the feel-good viral sensation, but these jarring images really show our planet in a worrying state of flux.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Vial containing swab from a deceased duck, collected for testing during the 2014-2015 avian influenza outbreak. © 2015 Erica Cirino, used with permission.

Could Trump’s Government Shutdown Cause Outbreaks of Wildlife Disease?

By Erica Cirino

The current U.S. government shutdown could worsen ongoing wildlife disease outbreaks or even delay responses to new epidemics, according to federal insiders and outside experts who work with federal wildlife employees.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Vegan raw cheese from cashew nuts. byheaven/ iStock / Getty Images

Vegan Cheese: What’s the Best Dairy-Free Option?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Cheese is one of the most beloved dairy products across the globe. In the U.S. alone, each person consumes more than 38 pounds (17 kg) of cheese per year, on average (1).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Sun setting behind the Fawley Oil Refinery in Fawley, England. Clive G' / CC BY-ND 2.0

Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe'

By Jessica Corbett

Ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world's wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that's been called both the "money Oscars" and a "threat to democracy"—the group published a report declaring, "Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe."

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Robusta coffee beans growing on a tree. Dag Sundberg / Getty Images

60% of Wild Coffee Species at Risk for Extinction

If humans don't wake up now to the threats posed by climate change and habitat loss, we may be in for a permanently sleepy future. A study led by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew found that 60 percent of wild coffee species are at risk for extinction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!