On Monday, the Trump administration approved drilling plans for an oil and gas leasing program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
A decision that would normally take years, the approval for ANWR drilling was paper-pushed in a few short months. This is the first time the South Carolina-sized refuge will be opened up for oil extraction.
Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed the Record of Decision, permitting the plan to open up in the refuge’s coastal plain. The hasty decision was speed-rolled by an expedited environmental review, made possible from a series of Trump-era EPA rollbacks.
The policy move signifies a big win for Republicans in a decades-long fight for energy independence. Democrats routinely dismissed the proposal for oil drilling in the pristine refuge until a 2017 GOP Tax Bill approved lease sales in the refuge.
Once leases are locked in, advocating for delays and shutdowns will become increasingly more difficult.
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What’s happening On Monday, the Trump administration approved drilling plans for an oil and gas leasing program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Energy vs. Environment This is a big policy win for Republicans in a decades-long fight for energy independence. However, the South Carolina-sized refuge has never been used for oil extraction and for good reason.
The pristine land, made up of a biodiverse plant and wildlife population, deserves protection now more than ever. America is already oil-abundant. We don’t need more drilling.
So we are oil rich, why the move? Short answer: $$$$. Oil companies drilling on federal lands get a break on royalties.
Threat to Gwich’in people Gwich’in leaders are vocal about their fight against drilling in the coastal plains of ANWR. The Gwich’in people have lived in the ANWR for millenia.
What can you do
- You can sign a petition, available at the bottom of this article.
- Alaskans can vote in the upcoming Senatorial race; the incumbent candidate supports ANWR drilling.
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A tale of two perspectives
Advocates for energy independence: Alaska’s governor points to a potential 11.8 billion barrels of oil, while Bernhardt hailed it as a “new chapter in American energy independence.”
In the last few years, the United States has become the largest oil producer in the world. That allows the US to be less reliant on volatile foreign governments for energy. Opening ANWR is another move in that direction.
The case for environmental protection Environmentalists emphasize the desperate need to protect unharmed, biodiverse territories, as other wildlife refuges already struggle with ecological restoration.
Meanwhile, indigenous populations may become displaced as a result of land-leasing.
Talking points for dinner Does America really need more drilling right now? This decision may have nothing to do with oil & gas supply. And that data supports that.
Your last gas station bill was probably under $30. Why? As it turns out, we don’t need more oil right now.
The US today finds itself in a rare position w/ an excess supply and storage shortage of oil & gas. We don’t need more oil right now, and there is no sense of urgency to find more of it.
With so much oil and nothing to do with it, Texan drillers are sitting on their hands.
So why the big move for ANWR drilling?
$$$$ According to the Bureau of Land Management, oil companies pay annual lease rentals and royalties on oil and gas production to the Office of Natural Resource Revenue. Oil companies drilling on federal lands get a break on royalties. At the same time, solar and wind firms are receiving past-due bills.
Who are the losers? We the people of the United States watch another beautiful North American landscape fall into the hands of greedy short-term-gain-seekers.
More importantly, polar bears, muskox, caribou, grey wolves, and all the other innocent Alaskan wildlife who call ANWR their home now confront a major disruption and potential death. Have we learned nothing from the calls of the past?
Lastly, the indigenous people, most notably the Gwich’in tribe, are vocal about their fight against drilling in the coastal plains of ANWR. The Gwich’in people have lived in the ANWR for over a millenia, yet a few fat cats in Washington DC can decide the fate of their families.
How can you fight drilling in ANWR?
You can sign a petition from the National Resources Defense Council to halt drilling plans in ANWR. If you live in Alaska, you can protest against Senator Murkowski (R-AK) and her reckless decision-making.
Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, who also supports ANWR drilling, is running for re-election in November. Voice with your vote.