Essays About Oil Drilling

For the Gwich’in and others, fighting against drilling is a cultural imperative and a civil-rights issue.The refuge has another cultural relevance: It’s a unique part of American conservation history.As Roger Kaye describes in his book , the move was a precursor to the 1964 Wilderness Act, which the Muries also helped shape and which remains among our bedrock conservation laws.

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The Trump administration is barreling ahead with plans to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the country and an area of global ecological importance.

Many refer to the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge — the very place where oil drilling is being planned — as the “American Serengeti.” A home for grizzly bears, wolves, musk oxen and a host of other species, the area is famous as the birthing ground for the enormous Porcupine caribou herd, which each spring floods across the refuge’s coastal plain in the tens of thousands, arriving in time to raise newborn calves amid fresh tundra grasses.

We are now in the second comment period, which quietly opened during the holidays and was originally scheduled to close on February 11 — a period mostly characterized by President Trump’s 35-day government shutdown.

The purpose of the comment period is to gather input on an array of generally weak environmental restrictions proposed to govern the lease sales the administration hopes to offer this year.

Absurdly, drilling for oil now stands alongside other refuge purposes such as maintaining environmental health, conserving wildlife and protecting the wilderness values Eisenhower singled out back in 1960.

The law also prescribed a strict timetable for drilling.Drilling on the Arctic Refuge has long been opposed by most Americans.Among the staunchest opponents of drilling are indigenous people in northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, whose cultures and diets are entwined with the Porcupine herd.But to the current administration and its loyal allies in Congress, the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is destined to be an industrial oilfield.Caribou, birds, native people and history be damned — to say nothing of the climate, which needs another industrial oilfield about as much as Donald Trump needs another criminal investigation into his presidency.It’s all part of a fast-tracked attempt to transfer large swaths of the coastal plain into oil-industry hands before the 2020 election.Comments have now been extended through March 13, but the shutdown also resulted in the Interior Department postponing a series of public meetings, which would have enabled people to learn more about the sales.This destructive process, which will unleash convoys of giant “thumper trucks” onto the coastal plain, was previously conducted in 1985 under the Reagan administration.Monitoring a quarter-century later showed that more than 120 miles of ruts still scar the fragile tundra, their hard angles and straight lines intercepting the ponds and meandering streams of the natural landscape.They include the Gwich’in people of northern Alaska, who have lived in the Arctic for millennia and reside alongside the Arctic Refuge.Their name for the coastal plain is , or “the Sacred Place Where Life Begins,” a name reflecting the shared destiny of the caribou and the people.


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