For decades, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska has been hotly debated due to its potential for oil drilling. The area covers more than 19 million acres and has been closed off to oil drilling since the 80s because of concerns for wildlife in the area. Endangered species such as polar bears and caribou live in the refuge, and this protected land is essential for their survival.
Currently, it is the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain that is under attack. This area spans 1.5 million acres and is the birthing ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd and also our nation's largest denning site for pregnant polar bears. The indigenous people there actually refer to the coastal plain as “the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.”
The Trump administration is now trying to open up the area for oil drilling. They are beginning to change regulations from the 80s that would allow seismic studies to be done in the region. Seismic studies from the 80s have been shown to have a negative impact on the environment, with damage still visible in the Refuge.
Seismic studies are just the first step in making way for massive oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge. If allowed, this would be a huge injustice to the environment, the wildlife in the Refuge, and the indigenous people who live there.
“Oil and gas drilling would have devastating impacts on this pristine and fragile ecosystem, caused by the massive infrastructure needed to extract and transport oil. Drilling the Arctic is risky, would fragment vital habitat and chronic spills of oil and other toxic substances onto the fragile tundra would forever scar this now pristine landscape and disrupt its wildlife.” ~ The Wilderness Society