U.S. Government pushes to drill in the Arctic Refuge as the U.S. House of Representatives passes conservation legislation.
Whitehorse, Yukon – Today the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is the latest move in its push to authorize drilling in the Refuge, a process marked by rushed timelines, the silencing of scientists, and limits on public involvement.
Drilling in the Arctic Refuge poses a direct threat to the Gwich’in, whose culture and subsistence ways of life depends on the health of the Porcupine caribou herd. The Gwich’in have long led efforts to protect the Arctic Refuge and the Porcupine caribou herd. “CPAWS Yukon stands with the Gwich’in in unequivocal opposition to drilling,” said Malkolm Boothroyd, Campaigns Coordinator at CPAWS Yukon.
The Final EIS identifies Alternative B as its preferred leasing option: an aggressive scenario that would open the entirety of the Coastal Plain – approximately 1.6 million acres – to leasing. The Bureau of Land Management’s preferred alternative provides minimal protections for the Porcupine caribou herd and Refuge’s other sensitive wildlife and ecosystems. The Final EIS also fails to comprehensively evaluate the impacts of drilling on the Porcupine caribou herd, and the Gwich’in communities that rely on the herd.
Earlier today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-193 in favour of the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, a bill that would restore protection to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, demonstrating growing momentum behind protecting the Refuge. “The passage of this legislation sends a strong message to the oil industry that drilling in the Arctic Refuge is deeply unpopular, and that future U.S. administrations may undo the efforts of the current administration,” said Boothroyd.