Protect Alaska’s Natural Legacy: Do Not Strong-Arm Damaging Drilling onto Arctic Wildlife Refuge

Target: Mark Fesmire, Alaska and Pacific Regional Director of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement

Goal: Stop downplaying and ignoring environmental threats from drilling in Alaska.

When the controversial tax cut package passed Congress, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski slipped in a special interest provision that propelled Arctic drilling efforts forward. In the process, she essentially sold out some of her state’s most precious lands for a vote. Now, the Trump Administration is looking to fast-track this destructive process, shunning environmental dangers in the process. As a result, within a year one of the world’s last undisturbed wonders could be open for corporate pillage.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a true sight to behold, sprawling nearly 15 million acres. The lands host an array of wildlife, from polar bears to water fowl to porcupine caribou: magnificent but vulnerable animals that may soon have their habitats, and their livelihoods, altered forever. Further, proposed activities such as seismic testing will likely mar and reshape a diverse landscape that encompasses marshes, rivers, hills, lakes, coastal plains, and a collection of plant life perhaps unrivaled in the northern hemisphere. Much of the proposed drilling would take place in a section of the plains area that will significantly impact caribou and the native Gwich’in people who depend upon these animals and the surrounding lands for much of their physical and spiritual sustenance.

Despite public outcry from these and other concerned citizens and despite words of caution from scientists, this administration is demanding fast approval of leases for the Congress-certified drilling efforts. This acceleration forces key agencies to complete a review process that would normally take years in only a few months. Not only will this shrunken time frame stifle much of the local citizenry’s debate, but it will likewise curtail the voices of many key environmental analysts and experts. The Fish and Wildlife Service has already been left out of much of the decision-making process, and Interior Department officials are limiting environmental assessments to only 150 pages within the expected review. For context, one environmental organization alone submitted an analysis of harmful impacts that spanned well over 150 pages.

Sign this petition to demand the Interior Department take time and care with a process that could radically redefine the Arctic landscape for generations to come.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Fesmire,

Senator Lisa Murkowski, in her continued promotion of arctic drilling, once proclaimed that ‘outsiders’ should not determine the fate of Alaska’s arctic landscape . Perhaps, then, Senator Murkowski and others should listen to the voices of the people who have inhabited these lands for centuries….the people who rely on these lands for survival in every sense of the word.

The Gwich’in people have joined droves of their fellow Alaskans in calling for compassion and caution in fundamentally altering their environment and their lives. We are concerned that in the name of speed and profit, you are not listening to these voices or the voices of countless experts who devote their lives to studying these lands. In order to hear these voices and in order to deem you analysis truly trustworthy, you need time that extends well beyond a few months.   You also need detailed, accurate analysis that is not limited to a few  pages.

Even the organizations with whom you are negotiating drilling contracts have urged you to take your time. Do the one thing that every side of this heated debate can agree upon: make informed, holistic decisions that ensure no animal, no piece of pristine land, and no voice is left behind.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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