Get our newsletter delivered directly to your inbox
I have already subscribed | Do not show this message again
Your email has been successfully registered.
The wildlife refuge remained untouched for 40 years since its creation and survived several attempts by Republican politicians to profit on the area and open it to oil exploration.
The U.S. Department of Interior announced on Monday that it would sell oil leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), jeopardizing the ecosystem and communities who live inside the 19.3 million-acre refuge.
The coastal plain of the ANWR is estimated to have 7.7 billion barrels of oil, so it became a target for the oil industry decades ago despite the opposition of the local community. However, the decision follows President Trump's energy agenda, regardless of the environmental impact.
Alaska's governor Michael Dunleavy justified the decision arguing that it would create jobs and increase the economic activity as oil is one of the state's leading sectors.
Nevertheless, in June Kristen Miller, Conservation Director at Alaska Wilderness League warned on a statement that "the new draft plan for the Western Arctic faced clear opposition from the public, especially from local communities facing increasingly negative impacts on air quality and health as well as concerns over food security due to climate change and existing development."
The wildlife refuge remained untouched for 40 years since its creation and survived several attempts by Republican politicians to profit on the area and open it to oil exploration. However, in 2017 a tax bill was pass which allows oil and gas leasing.
The Department of Interior foresees that the selling will start by the end of 2021 or possibly before the end of 2020. Several environmental groups announced that they would challenge the decision in court.
The decision puts at stake areas such as Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, one of the most productive wetland complexes in the world; up to 100,000 molting geese, more than half a million shorebirds and the migratory destiny of several polar bears, among others.
"As climate change impacts the Arctic at a rate more than double the rest of the world, we must view our public lands as part of the climate crisis solution, not as a tool for this administration to continue doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry," warned the Alaska Wilderness League.