Update: Feds to open most of Arctic refuge coastal plain to drilling

Despite ecological harm, energy development moves forward in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

 

anwrdrilling-jpg
The Gwich’in Steering Committee is against opening up the refuge for drilling.

BACKSTORY

Some Republicans and energy companies have long sought access to the estimated 10 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil in the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The 1.5-million-acre area provides essential habitat for caribou calving, polar bears and migratory birds. Although environmentalists, Alaska Native groups and moderate Republicans tried to protect it, Congress passed a bill in 2017 requiring the Bureau of Land Management to begin leasing the area to energy companies (“In Alaska, wildlands lose out to roads and drill rigs,HCN, 2/28/18).

FOLLOWUP

In late December, the BLM released an environmental impact statement whose three options would open between 66 and 100 percent of the plain to leasing. The agency acknowledges that development could impact subsistence hunters and wildlife, cause water and air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of permafrost and vegetation, and reduce recreational opportunities, but energy companies have already applied to begin seismic exploration. Public comment on the BLM study is open until Feb. 11.

High Country News Classifieds