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Trump approves drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Friday 13 Sep 2019

Trump approves drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

(Sharecast News) - The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it is planning to open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that has been protected for decades to oil and gas drilling.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will offer leases on essentially the entire 1.6m-acre coastal plain by the end of 2019.

The area set to be sold off for drilling includes places where threatened polar bears have dens and porcupine caribou visit for calving.

It is also harmful for indigenous peoples' way of life which is based around hunting and fishing.

"After rigorous review, robust public comment, and a consideration of a range of alternatives, today's announcement is a big step to carry out the clear mandate we received from Congress to develop and implement a leasing program for the Coastal Plain, a program the people of Alaska have been seeking for over 40 years," Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, said in a statement.

Despite the Democrat-controlled House having passed legislation to protect the area just hours earlier, the plan was likely to get the green light as the Republicans, who held sway in the Senate, were highly unlikely to approve that bill.

According to the Guardian, the Alaska Wilderness League's executive director Adam Kolton said that "to no one's surprise, the administration chose the most aggressive leasing alternative, not even pretending that this is about restraint or meaningful protection.

"With an eye on developing the entirety of the fragile coastal plain, the administration has been riding roughshod over science, silencing dissent and shutting out entire Indigenous communities."

The bureau estimated that oil extracted and burnt from the area could release the equivalent of between 0.7m and 5.0m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

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