The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was created 115 years ago by President Theodore Roosevelt in order to develop a system of refuges for caribou, polar bear, wolves, eagles and migratory birds. Even in 1903 it was obvious that unrestrained commercial exploitation would decimate the wilderness and extinguish its inhabitants. The animals and plants of ANWR depend on the great expanse of natural, undisturbed territory for their existence. To date, ANWR has been protected from mineral exploitation through the diligence of activists, but the federal government is once trying again to open ANWR to exploitation and destruction by oil drilling.
The Great Republican Tax Scam of 2017 was made possible when the Republicans bought Senator Lisa Murkowski’s vote with a provision in the bill that allows for drilling in ANWR. After almost 50 previously failed legislative attempts, the multi -national oil companies have now taken the first steps to allow drilling in 19 million unspoiled acres of wilderness. Luckily, the process is a long one and we actually have the opportunity to speak up and fight back.
The BLM is starting the scoping process for an environmental review of the impact of leasing drilling rights to companies in the 1.6-million-acre portion of the ANWR known as the “coastal plain.” Experts agree that oil and gas development in this area would permanently and irreversibly disrupt the ecological integrity of the refuge. ANWR is the last intact landscape in America, and home to 37 species of land mammals, eight marine mammals, 42 fish species and more than 200 migratory bird species. The coastal plain is also the calving ground for Porcupine Caribou herds which, in turn, are a vital source of sustenance for the Gwich’in Nation and other Inuit communities who live in the region.
Finally, the ANWR oil is one more source of carbon pollution to intensify global warming. Speak out to demand that the BLM acknowledge and account for the widely accepted scientific consensus that burning of fossil fuels is a primary contributor to global temperature rise. We need renewable fuel sources; not ones that threaten the fragile web of life in the Arctic and elsewhere.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking comments about the proposed change of regulations that would allow drilling. By law, the government must read and answer each comment. Obviously, this is not a highly personalized process, but it is an important way of registering your opinion and of helping to establish the terms of future political maneuvering on the issue. Now is the time to tell the BLM what you think about development in ANWR and what you want for the future.
Call To Action
Write and email a comment in your own words about the importance of maintaining ANWR free of oil development. You can speak to the protection of the Porcupine Caribou and the native people who depend on them. You can express your support to protect the last unspoiled area in the US. And if you have personal experiences with the region or merely aspirations to someday visit it, include those observations. Don’t worry about using technical language, just speak directly about your concerns. Send your comments on or before June 19, 2018.
Bonus action: Call your Representative and tell them you support The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Act introduced by Congressman Jared Huffman of California. This would repeal the Arctic Refuge drilling provision in the tax bill, prohibit new gas or oil leases, and halt the renewals of existing leases.