“The Gwich’in have been fighting for decades to protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known to them as “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins). The Trump administration is taking aggressive steps to fast track plans to give oil and gas companies the right to drill on these lands. Drilling will destroy intact wilderness and violate the human rights of the Gwich’in, who rely on this sacred place to sustain their culture and way of life.
The Gwich’in are fighting to protect their future, but they can’t win this battle alone.“
Trump is pushing the lease sales through before Biden takes office. We need to help! But how did we get here?
The GOP’s 2017 Tax Act (aka “scam”) not only included ±$1.7 trillion of goodies for the richest amongst us, but also a gift to the president’s fossil fuel supporters – 400,000 acres of the Coastal Plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be opened to oil and gas leasing within 4 years, with a second lease sale within 7 years, all based on the fairy-tale estimation that the “1002 Area” would produce a $1.8 billion windfall for the treasury. The Act also stipulated that there can be up to 2000 acres of surface infrastructure, and rewrote the purpose of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as stated in ANILCA (1980) to include providing “for an oil and gas program on the Coastal Plain.”
So here we are. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is now in the final phase of the process to hold a lease sale (“Record of Decision” document here) – which they expect to start as soon as January! Of the four options outlined in the “draft Environmental Impact Statement” (DEIS) (described at the bottom of this post), soon-to-be-ex-Dept. of the Interior Sec. David Bernhardt picked the worst of the worst – Plan “B,” which puts up for lease the entire Coastal Plain, 1.5 million acres, far more than required by the Tax Act, with minimal requirements. Under “Mitigation Measures” in the final report (p.19), Bernhardt promises only that “This Decision includes all practicable and reasonable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm consistent with the purpose and need of the action…” which is drilling.