President Donald Trump’s administration Monday released its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil and gas development.
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The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) gave its approval to a project allowing the search of fossil fuels in the ANWR coastal plain, an area of about 600,000 hectares.
The decision sets the stage for what is expected to be a fierce legal battle. Besides being home to polar bears and caribou, the ANWR is believed to sit atop billions of barrels of oil.
“The Trump administration’s review process for their shameless sell-off of the Arctic Refuge has been a sham from the start. We’ll see them in court,” the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign Director Lena Moffitt said.
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) attorney Kristen Monsell expressed that there is no good time to open up U.S. largest wildlife refuge to drilling and fracking. She also stressed that it is bonkers to endanger this beautiful place during a worldwide oil glut.
“This administration has done nothing but disrespect the Indigenous peoples,” Gwich’in Steering Committee Director Bernadette Demientieff said, explaining that the coastal plain is the main calving grounds for about 200,000 porcupine caribou.
The U.S. Congress gave the green light for approving this plan in 2017. A year later, the Bureau of Land Management determined that the exploration can be conducted without harming wildlife.