The Trump administration revealed a plan to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas development as early as next summer.
In a move that marked a significant step forward in a bid to establish fossil fuel extraction in the protected area, the government published a draft report of an environmental impact assessment, the second stage to allow fossil fuel extraction.
A 2005 analysis by the USGS, the area contains more than 10 billion barrels of oil. At peak production, the area could supply up to 1.45 million barrels of oil per day.
Environmentalists have strongly condemned the proposal. The Center for Biological Diversity says the administration has placed arbitrary deadlines and limitations on the environmental review.
Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, said “The Gwich’in nation opposes any development in the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, The rush and fast pace that they are moving in only proves that they have no intention of addressing our concerns. Ninety-five percent of the Arctic is opened to oil and gas. Leave the remaining five percent alone.”
The impact assessment says exploitation of the area would have an impact on the air, water, and wildlife. It also says there is the impact from increased greenhouse gas emissions from development.
The proposal will appear in the Federal Register the beginning of a 45 day comment period. The Bureau of Land Management could hold its first lease sale for the area as early as next summer.
A year ago, Congress passed a bill ending more than four decades of efforts to open up the Arctic refugee to oil drilling.