Drilling in the Arctic

Go Ahead Given to Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

By Lakshmy Raman

Home to caribou, polar, black and brown bears, Arctic foxes, Dall sheep, and moose and the Inupiaq and Gwich'in people. A haven for over 200 bird species including Snowy Owls and Golden Eagles. Such a land rightfully called America's last great wilderness should be sacred and revered. Unfortunately, in the misguided race to energy independence, the current American government has announced plans for an oil and gas leasing programme, which will clear the way for drilling in the Arctic Refuge area. Conservationists fear that this is only the first step and the administration is on the verge of “green-lighting seismic exploration on the Arctic Refuge's coastal plain”. In 2017, President Trump signed a tax bill into law that included a provision that opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling to offset massive corporate tax cuts. Now the administration is ready to sell off the Arctic Refuge to the highest bidder.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower first protected the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge more than 60 years ago. The refuge included the entire ecosystem, both north and south of the Brooks Range, including the biologically rich Coastal Plain, essential to the integrity of this ecosystem. The Coastal Plain is the heart of this wild Arctic ecosystem, supporting the 197,000-animal porcupine caribou herd.

This is no place for industrial oil fields. The industrial-scale drilling operations, which will require rigs, pipelines, roads, and machinery will drastically impact the 37 species of land mammals, eight marine mammals, 42 fish species, and varied birdlife here. Temperatures are already rising at twice the rate as the reset of the world in the Arctic. More fossil fuel extraction will only exacerbate the climate effects being seen in this region.