As U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke tours Alaska, a newly released TWS report says the Administration’s proposal to drill the Arctic is a mistake. The report comes just days after the Trump administration released a proposed budget calling for oil and gas drilling on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The latest version of the report, called Too Wild to Drill, is expected to be released in full over the summer, however the severity and importance of the threat of drilling prompted TWS to release the Arctic Refuge chapter early, in an effort to highlight the value of one of America’s last pristine, untouched landscapes. The Arctic Refuge is widely viewed by conservation groups as a national treasure, consisting of a landscape of 19.2 million acres in northeastern Alaska, and is home to polar bears, wolves, migratory birds and the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which consists of more than 180,000 animals. Alaska’s indigenous Gwich’in people rely on the refuge’s subsistence resources to sustain their communities and culture.
“As politicians in Washington, D.C., argue over what should be done with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gwich’in people say that, to us, protecting the refuge from oil and gas development is a matter of human rights,” said Trimble Gilbert, traditional chief of Arctic Village, a Gwich’in community on the southern edge of the Arctic Refuge.
“The survival of the Gwich’in Nation is at stake.” Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska regional director for The Wilderness Society, said, “We need to continue to protect and preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has values far beyond whatever oil might lie beneath it. Some places are so special that they should simply be off limits, and the Arctic Refuge really is—as our report says—too wild to drill.”