The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an irreplaceable, unspoiled wilderness. If Donald Trump gets his way, millions of acres of our nation's most fragile wildlife lands will be opened up to drilling for his friends and donors in the oil and gas industry.
(October 20, 2009) -- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an irreplaceable, unspoiled wilderness. To protect this pristine wilderness, visit www.alaskawild.org
ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress:
No oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The petition to Congress reads: "Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and oppose any bills, including the budget, that would allow oil drilling in this fragile and pristine ecosystem."
If Donald Trump gets his way, millions of acres of our nation's most fragile wildlife lands will be opened up to drilling for his friends and donors in the oil and gas industry.
As a priority in his most recent budget, Trump proposed to allow drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which would pose a massive threat to endangered species and other wildlife and surely result in a catastrophic oil spill.
Only Congress can vote to hand over this iconic landscape to the fossil fuel industry, and it is currently working out the details of the 2018 fiscal year budget, which includes Trump's proposal. We must pressure Congress to protect ANWR and oppose any attempts to allow drilling in this fragile ecosystem.
Established by President Eisenhower in 1960, ANWR is a roughly 19 million acre wildlife refuge located in the northeast corner of Alaska. It is critical calving grounds for the Porcupine caribou and home to some of America's last remaining polar bears. Around 200 migratory birds and all three species of North American bears are found in the refuge.
For nearly 40 years, Congress has successfully blocked Big Oil and conservative Republicans' backroom attempts to open up ANWR to drilling, even during times of oil scarcity. Now, with a glut of fossil fuel reserves, potential drilling opportunities elsewhere in the country and the rise of cheaper, greener alternatives, Trump and his fossil fuel cabinet are still working to destroy one of the last remaining untouched habitats in America.
Drilling in this region is extremely dangerous, with more than 70 oil spills occurring in Alaska every year, so it would be just a matter of time before a catastrophic spill in ANWR occurs.3 And drilling in ANWR is extremely unpopular, with polls showing that more than two-thirds of voters oppose drilling in the region, with a majority strongly opposed.
Yet, Republicans are set to bow to Trump and their corporate donors by sneaking provisions into the budget to line the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans have come together to block drilling in ANWR before, so it is time we speak out in force to ensure they do the right thing again and protect this precious land and wildlife from the fossil fuel industry.
Josh Nelson, is the Deputy Political Director for CREDO Action from Working Assets.
President Trump wants to allow Big Oil to "drill, baby, drill" in Alaska's fragile Arctic wildlife refuge. Matt Egan / CNN
(May 25, 2017) -- The 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been closed to oil exploration since 1980 due to concerns about the impact on the region's caribou, polar bears and other animals.
But Trump, who has promised to flex America's energy muscles, wants to change that. The White House's budget proposal put out this week calls for raising nearly $2 billion in revenue over the next decade by selling oil and gas leases in an oil-rich section of ANWR.
Opening the Alaskan refuge to drilling requires an act of Congress and environmentalists are already vowing fierce opposition. Given the high costs involved, it's not clear Big Oil would even want to drill in the challenging Alaskan terrain in today's world of low oil prices.
But with Republicans in control of Congress, those arguments may not hold much sway.
"It's a real, live thing. For Republicans, it's taking on a Keystone-like rallying cry," said Joe McMonigle, who served as the Department of Energy's chief of staff under President George W. Bush.
McMonigle, senior energy policy analyst at Hedgeye Potomac Research, predicted Congress will approve drilling in ANWR through the budget reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority for approval.
That's what happened in 1995, but the budget package was ultimately vetoed by President Clinton.
Others predict public support for preserving the Alaskan refuge will once again block the march to drill there.
"Opening up ANWR to drilling has close to zero percent likelihood given strong opposition from environmental groups for decades," said Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy.
Opponents will note the irony of Trump pushing to drill on protected land when there is a surplus of untapped oil in the Lower 48. US production, fueled by the shale revolution, has skyrocketed in recent years and created a global oil glut that even mighty OPEC is struggling to fix.
In fact, the Trump administration has held up the US oil boom as a reason why now is the time to sell off half of America's strategic oil reserve meant to safeguard against emergencies.
Bordoff, a former adviser to President Obama, noted that ANWR's restrictions came into place just years after the Arab oil embargo that caused fuel shortages.
"If the US restricted access to ANWR during times of oil scarcity, then it's hard to imagine it will be repealed during times of abundance," he said.
Environmentalist are already crying foul, noting that ANWR remains one of America's few remaining places to be untouched by human activity.
"It's a dirty industry that's prone to leaks, spills and catastrophes. You don't trust an industry like that with an ecosystem this fragile," said Athan Manuel, director of the lands protection program for the Sierra Club.
Manuel argued that the refuge would be damaged even if there wasn't a disaster like the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster that spilled more than 10 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Alaska.
But McMonigle, the former Bush official, doesn't think Republicans in Congress will be influenced by those fears.
"The environmental concerns are overblown. We're not talking about strip-mining or something that will spoil the environment," he said, adding that even some moderate Democrats in the US Senate could support ANWR legislation.
But there's no guarantee the oil industry will rush up to Alaska if Congress acts.
Prices are so low today that it's profitable to drill in few places in the US outside of the Permian Basin, the uber-cheap shale hotbed of Texas and New Mexico. Drilling in Alaska, by contrast, is notoriously difficult and expensive to navigate.
"Ultimately it will be an economic decision, and the economics there can be challenging," said Rob Thummel, a portfolio manager at Tortoise Capital, an energy-focused investment firm.
Thummel said that eventually, if oil demand continues to grow, it could make sense to explore in the Arctic refuge.
But even then, only the biggest oil players with the strongest balance sheets would be able to withstand the huge amounts of time and resources required. That would include oil giants like Chevron (CVX), BP (BP) and ExxonMobil (XOM), which was previously led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Lately, these giants have made spending cut backs.
Related: Massive oil discovery in Alaska
Related: Trump wants to sell half of emergency US oil reserve Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Alaska Wild.org
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, located in the northeast corner of Alaska, is one of the finest examples of wilderness remaining anywhere in the world. The Arctic Refuge is a perfect example of intact, naturally functioning Arctic and subarctic ecosystems; in fact, such a broad spectrum of diverse habitats occurring within a single protected unit is unparalleled in North America. There are some places, like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, that define what it means to be American. The Arctic Refuge is one of the places.
The Refuge supports an impressive diversity of arctic and subarctic wildlife, including two caribou herds -- the Porcupine Caribou Herd and the Central Arctic Caribou Herd. The Porcupine Caribou Herd in particular depends on the Refuge's Coastal Plain, where calving occurs from late May to mid-July.
Approximately 200 species of migratory birds have been seen on the Arctic Refuge -- the Coastal Plain is especially important for shorebirds and waterfowl that nest on or otherwise utilize the area during the summer. All three species of North American bears -- black, polar and grizzly -- can be found on the Refuge.
In fact, the Arctic Refuge contains the most important land denning habitat for U.S. polar bears in the entire Alaskan Arctic. Additional species found in the Refuge include moose, wolverines, and birds of prey such as golden eagles and peregrine falcons.
People and the Refuge: The Gwich'in
The Gwich'in people have lived in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge region spanning from Alaska to Canada for hundreds of generations. The word "Gwich'in" means "people of the land," and their lives and culture have become inseparable from the fate of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. The Gwich'in people and rely on caribou as their chief food source, as well as for clothing, tools and ornaments, and as a central fixture of their culture.
In Alaska, the Gwich'in reside in nine communities: Arctic Village, Beaver, Birch Creek, Canyon Village, Chalkyitsik, Circle, Eagle Village, Fort Yukon and Venetie.
For thousands of years, the Gwich'in people have regarded the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge as "Iizhik Gwats'an Gwandaii Goodlit" or "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins," because it has been the most frequently used birthing and nursery grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd. The Porcupine Caribou Herd is the foundation for the social, economic and spiritual fabric of the lives of the Gwich'in people.