The outgoing Trump administration has issued illegal oil and gas leases on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Despite the lease approval process generally taking months, today’s announcement comes just two weeks after the Trump administration held its first Arctic Refuge lease sale, which saw little interest from oil majors, generating less than 1% of that predicted income.
The Trump administration has moved forward with its illegal leasing programme despite an ongoing lawsuit led by the Gwich’in Steering Committee.
Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, said ‘This administration’s decision to hand sacred lands to exploiters shows its commitment to continuing its cowardly assault on the Gwich’in Nation, even in its last days.
‘But it changes nothing. Our ancestors protected these lands long before colonial exploitation. Our resolve is absolute. Our way of life is not for sale or up for negotiation. This is about our survival. It’s about future generations. It’s about the climate crisis and the health of the planet.
‘Our strength comes to us through the courage and wisdom of our ancestors and elders, the promise and commitment of our youth, and the millions of allies around the world who stand with us to protect the Arctic Refuge.’
Adam Kolton, executive director at Alaska Wilderness League added: ‘This lease sale isn’t legitimate and won’t stand. It was based on an illegal environmental review, faulty revenue projections and sidelined science. We look forward to President-elect Biden stopping the liquidation of this national treasure and restoring protections for its iconic wildlife, wilderness and the Indigenous peoples who depend on it.
‘President-elect Biden ran on and was elected on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, and he has made protecting the Arctic Refuge a day one priority. It’s part of his climate plan, part of his commitment to tribal nations and part of the Democratic National Committee platform. We look forward to his taking strong and decisive action to ensure that no oil rig or seismic truck ever despoils an inch of this last great wilderness.’
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