Trump Admin. Moves To Open Over 1 Million Acres Of Alaska Wildlife Refuge To Oil Drilling
The Trump Administration’s assault on the wilderness of Alaska continued earlier this month when it officially moved to open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling that will destroy the environment and release billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Earlier this month, Trump ordered the Tongass National Forest in Alaska be opened up to loggers and corporate development in an action that will destroy old-growth forests that support many important species, including salmon.
The main threat of course, is that the world would lose the largest temperate rainforest to deforestation and any help it has given as a buffer against climate change because the Tongass and the Amazon both produce oxygen we need to breathe and suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
But now Trump is leveling the state with a double whammy that would put the pristine Alaskan environment in its grave by leasing millions of acres of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas companies.
“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,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced in a statement.
The refuge is the crown jewel of gifts the fossil fuel industry has been seeking from Trump since he took office, and now they get their chance to destroy one of the most pristine natural environments left on Earth for profit.
Environmental groups decried the review, especially since it was completed by Trump cronies who have close ties to the fossil fuel industry, like Bernhardt, who was once a top lobbyist.
“This sham ‘review’ unlawfully opens the entire coastal plain to leasing and fails to minimize damage to this unique environment,” Natural Resources Defense Council and Alaska Project lawyer Garett Rose told The Hill. “It violates what is sacred ground to, and a source of subsistence for, the Gwich’in people. The majority of Americans want this sacred area protected. And within hours of Congress taking action, the Trump administration is moving with haste to destroy it.”
Rose is right. An overwhelming 70 percent of Americans oppose drilling in the wildlife refuge.
But Trump doesn’t care, and neither do fossil fuel industry executives. They want more money to keep their dying 19th century business alive, even though they will irrevocably harm the environment every step of the way and pump even more carbon into the atmosphere, thus paving the way to uncontrollable climate change that threatens every creature on the planet.
“To no one’s surprise, the administration chose the most aggressive leasing alternative, not even pretending that this is about restraint or meaningful protection,” Alaska Wilderness League’s Executive Director Adam Kolton told The Guardian. “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.”
Keep in mind, this decision comes on top of another Trump scheme to open millions of acres of the Western United States to the fossil fuel industry, which will pollute the land and atmosphere even more.
And House Democrats are powerless to stop Trump’s fire-sale of Alaskan wilderness because Republicans control the Senate and share Trump’s hatred of the environment. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) expressed his own horror at what we lose when the wildlife refuge is taken over.
“There are some places too wild, too important, too unique to be spoiled by oil-and-gas development,” he said. “The Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain is one of those special places.”
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