Quantcast
Popular
Polar Bear sow and two cubs in the Arctic Refuge's 1002 area targeted for oil drilling. Wikimedia Commons

Trump Admin Begins Process to Open Pristine Arctic Refuge for Drilling

The Interior Department has launched the process of holding lease sales for oil and gas drilling in the 1.6-million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Despite decades of fierce resistance from Democrats and conservation groups, pro-drilling Republicans were able to realize their goal of opening the refuge after quietly including the measure in last year's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.


A notice published Friday in the Federal Register starts the 60-day public scoping period to assist in the preparation of an environmental impact statement for the leasing program.

The sale targets the 1002 area on the Prudhoe Bay in Northern Alaska, which has an estimated 12 billion barrels of recoverable crude. The area is described by the Sierra Club as "the biological heart" of the Arctic Refuge—home to polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other species—as well as vital lands and wildlife for the subsistence way of life of the Gwich'in Nation.

Environmental groups condemned the plan, calling it "shameful" that it would be published just before the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

"The Trump administration's reckless dash to expedite drilling and destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will only hasten a trip to the courthouse," Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement. "We will not stand by and watch them desecrate this fragile landscape."

In a statement, Assistant Interior Secretary Joe Balash called the drilling plan "an important facet for meeting our nation's energy demands and achieving energy dominance."

"This scoping process begins the first step in developing a responsible path forward. I look forward to personally visiting the communities most affected by this process and hearing their concerns," Balash added.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has long fought to open the refuge, said in a joint statement with other Alaskan lawmakers that drilling would "help ensure the energy and economic security of our nation."

In February, President Trump spoke about his indifference on the matter until an oil industry friend told him that past presidents, including conservative icon Ronald Reagan, couldn't get drilling done. He then directed lawmakers to put the provision in the tax bill.

"I never appreciated ANWR so much," Trump said during a speech at a Republican retreat in West Virginia. "A friend of mine called up who is in that world and in that business. He said, 'Is it true that you're thinking about ANWR?' I said 'Yeah, I think we're going to get it but you know …' He said, 'Are you kidding? That's the biggest thing by itself. Ronald Reagan and every president has wanted to get ANWR approved.' And after that I said 'Oh, make sure that is in the bill. It was amazing how that had an impact."

He made similar remarks a month later at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner.

The purpose of the public scoping process is to assist the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in identifying relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental impact statement and guide its development. It may also inform post-lease activities, including seismic and drilling exploration, development, and transportation of oil and gas in and from the coastal plain.

The bureau has invited the public to provide comments on scoping issues and will hold public scoping meetings in Anchorage, Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Kaktovik and Utqiaġvik at times and locations to be announced in local media, newspapers and on the BLM website.

Comments will be accepted through June 19, 2018, and can be sent by any of the following methods:

Website: www.blm.gov/alaska/coastal-plain-eis
Email: blm_ak_coastalplain_EIS@blm.gov
Mail: Attn: Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS
222 West 7th Avenue, Stop #13
Anchorage, Alaska 99513

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Health
Mark Doliner / CC BY-SA 2.0

110 Million Americans May Be Drinking PFAS-Contaminated Water

More than 1,500 drinking water systems across the country may be contaminated with the nonstick chemicals PFOA and PFOS, and similar fluorine-based chemicals, a new EWG analysis shows. This groundbreaking finding comes the same day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is convening a summit to address PFAS chemicals—a class of toxic chemicals that includes PFOA and PFOS, and that are linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity and other health problems.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Fern MacDougal's stand on Pocahontas Road. Appalachians Against Pipelines

Tree-Sitters Launch 9th Aerial Blockade of Mountain Valley Pipeline

Resistance is growing against the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) designed to carry fracked gas 300 miles from northwest West Virginia to southern Virginia.

On Monday morning, a woman named Fern MacDougal strung up a platform 30 feet in the air that is suspended by ropes tied to surrounding trees in Virginia's Jefferson National Forest.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil. G.steph.rocket / CC BY-SA 4.0

Can the Mediterranean Diet Protect You Against Air Pollution Health Risks?

Air pollution is a serious and growing public health concern. Ninety-five percent of the Earth's population breathes unsafe air, and scientists are discovering more and more health risks associated with doing so.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Increased ocean temperatures are causing Noctiluca scintillans to cause waves like these, photographed on a Japanese beach in 2017, to wash up on beaches in Mumbai. Doricono / CC BY-SA 4.0

Mumbai’s Glowing Waves a Sign of Climate Change

A recent study by Indian and U.S. scientists found that climate change might be the cause of an eerily beautiful phenomenon on Mumbai beaches, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Irma Omerhodzic

EPA Guard Shoves Reporter, Multiple News Outlets Blocked From Water Pollution Event

By Jessica Corbett

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked reporters from CNN, E&E News and the Associated Press from attending a summit about water pollution on Tuesday, and a security guard reportedly grabbed a journalist by the shoulders and "forcibly" shoved her out of the building.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Simulated flooding caused by a Category 3 hurricane striking Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC. NPS

National Park Service Releases Climate Report That Officials Tried to Censor

The National Parks Service (NPS) quietly released a long-delayed report that mentions humanity's role in climate change, which officials had removed in earlier drafts.

The report, published Friday without a press release or any social media activity from the parks department or Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, shows estimates of sea level change for 118 coastal national park sites and estimates of storm surge for 79 of the sites.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
The Murphy oil site in West Adams, LA, sits as close as 200 feet from homes and playgrounds. Sarah Craig / Faces of Fracking / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Will Gov. Brown Plug the Dangerous Hole in California’s Climate Action?

By Kelly Trout

California Gov. Jerry Brown is gearing up to host leaders from state, tribal, and local governments, business and citizens from around the world at a Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September. His goal is to "inspire deeper commitments" in support of the Paris agreement goals. He has emphasized that, on climate, "so far the response is not adequate to the challenge" and "no nation or state is doing what they should be doing."

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines Launches #StrawlessSkies Campaign

As part of its worldwide push "For a Strawless Ocean," Alaska Airlines announced Monday that its 44 million yearly passengers will fly in "strawless skies."

Starting July 16, the leading U.S. airline on the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index will stop distributing single-use plastic stirring straws and citrus picks in its lounges and on its domestic and international flights. It is the the first U.S. airline to do so. The non-recyclable items, which the airline distributed 22 million of last year, will be replaced with Forest Stewardship Council certified birch stirring sticks and bamboo citrus pickers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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