The Arctic Refuge needs your voice. Here we go again.

baby muskox

Baby muskox in the Arctic Refuge, by Malkolm Boothroyd
Written by Malkolm Boothroyd, Campaigns Coordinator

I feel like we’ve said this a thousand times.

The Arctic Refuge needs your voice.

We said it back in the spring of 2018, when the U.S. Government began working on its environmental review of oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Refuge.

We said it when the U.S. released a deeply flawed Draft Environmental Impact Statement at the beginning of 2019. 

We said it when a company applied to conduct seismic testing in the Arctic Refuge, and again last month when another company came forward with a similar plan.

Again and again you’ve answered the call. Thousands of you have written to the U.S. Government about the importance of the Arctic Refuge to the Porcupine caribou herd and the Gwich’in. We’ve all poured our energy into these comment periods, even while knowing that the U.S. Government would disregard us. 

You urged them to hold hearings in Canada. They ignored the invitation. You asked them to conduct a thorough environmental review. Instead they rushed through the process. You told them about the ecological and cultural importance of the Arctic Refuge. They chose the most aggressive leasing scenario imaginable, one which would offer up every single acre of the Coastal Plain to oil companies.

The most blatant example of this happened this month. In mid-November the U.S. Government issued its “Call for Nominations”—giving industry and the public a month to comment on land parcels and environmental mitigations ahead of a lease sale in the Arctic Refuge. The feedback received during the Call for Nominations period is meant to inform how lease sales are designed, but the U.S. Government went ahead and announced a lease sale with two weeks left in the comment period. They didn’t even give the pretense of listening.

The outgoing administration intends to hold a lease sale on January 6th, just two weeks before a new administration takes over.

But in spite of all this we’re going to say it again. The Arctic Refuge still needs your voice. 

The U.S. Government isn’t acting in good faith, but we still have to. It’s critical we get our concerns on the public record. If and when this ends up before a judge, we need to be able to show that we did our job. We need to prove that the U.S. Government has consistently swept aside our concerns in its rush to auction the Arctic Refuge away to oil companies.

Still, it’s hard to keep pace with the deluge of terrible decisions coming out of Washington, D.C.. We’re in the midst of the Call for Nominations comment period, the comment period on an Environmental Assessment period for seismic testing in the Arctic Refuge, and a comment period on an Incidental Harassment Authorization for Polar Bears tied to the push for seismic testing. The latter two comment periods are happening in the midst of the holidays, in the midst of a pandemic. It’s exhausting.

In less than six weeks a new administration takes over, one that has committed to protecting the Arctic Refuge. But there’s a lot of damage the current one can do while they still control the U.S. Government. We’ve got to hold on a bit longer.

The Arctic Refuge needs your voice.

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