Amid a global public health crisis and extremely low oil prices, the lame Duck Trump administration plans to file a “nomination motion” tomorrow asking oil companies to share their preferences for areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain determine who to lease for oil drilling. This is the latest move by the Trump administration in its hasty process to open up one of the most iconic and sacred landscapes in the country to oil drilling.
The reason for protecting this holy land is so clear that five of the six major U.S. banks – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo – are among the two dozen banks around the world that have announced not to fund any new oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge. And President-elect Biden has made permanent protection of the Arctic and other areas affected by President Trump’s attack on states and waters a priority on the first day.
Indigenous leaders made the following statements:
“The sales of oil and gas leases in the Arctic Refuge show that the Trump administration has completely disregarded the human rights of the people of Gwich’in & Inupiat and our way of life, which depends on the health of the refuge’s coastal plain,” he said Jody Potts (Han Gwich’in), regional director of the Native Movement. “In the Arctic, our peoples are severely affected by a climate crisis due to the extraction of fossil fuels, which we cannot afford. The detrimental effects of oil development in these sacred and critical caribou calves are strongly felt by the villages of Gwich’in and Inupiat. As a Gwich’in person, I know that my family’s food security, culture, spirituality and way of life are at stake. The Gwich’in will not compromise and we will defend our way of life for future generations until this sacred land is permanently protected. “
Northern Pintail, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a sacred land that not only feeds the Gwich’in and Iñupiat peoples, but is one of the last untouched ecosystems in the world.” said the director of Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA), Siqiñiq Maupin. “Global consciousness is shifting towards a just and just transition to a sustainable economy, but the United States continues to ignore science and human rights. Indigenous peoples have passed stories across generations of the climate crisis we are currently facing. Without the leadership and values of the indigenous people, we are left with empty promises, a boom and bust economy, and threats to health and safety for all. Iñupiat People value all life and the narrative of our Iñupiaq nation that supports this type of project contradicts all our principles, ways of life and who we are. SILA stands in solidarity with the Gwich’in to protect the Porcupine caribou birthplaces. “
“This government has consistently ignored our voices and rejected our concerns. Our food security, our land and our way of life are on the verge of destruction. Handing over this very sacred area to oil companies is a violation of our human rights. ” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “Any company considering participating in this corrupt process should know that it has to respond to the Gwich’in people and the millions of Americans who stand with us. We will protect this place forever. This battle is far from over and we will do everything we can to defend our holy homelands. “
“The Trump administration opening oil lease sales is devastating to our way of life and our future.” said members of the Gwich’in Youth Council. “The Gwich’in identity is linked to land, water and animals. We have lost so much that we cannot afford to lose any more. Please stand by the Gwich’in Nation and help us stop oil production in the calving areas of the porcupine caribou herd, the sacred place where life begins. “
A coalition of indigenous, human rights and environmental organizations responded as follows:
Alaska Wilderness League * Alaska Wildlife Alliance * Arctic Audubon Society * Audubon Alaska * Canadian Parks and Wildlife Society, Yukon Chapter * Defenders of Wildlife * Earth Justice * Environment America * Eyak Preservation Council * Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges * Friends of the Earth USA * Gwich’in Steering Committee * Gwich’in Youth Council * Conservation Voters League * National Audubon Society * Native American Movement * Defense Council for Natural Resources * Northern Alaska Environmental Center * Sierra Club * Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA) * Booth. Earth * The Wilderness Society * Trustee for Alaska
“The Trump administration is pushing a last minute lease sale in America’s most famous wilderness after bypassing the environmental screening process required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The Interior Ministry’s own documents show that scientific data on the effects of drilling on endangered wildlife has been modified or ignored, including threatened polar bears that live in the coastal plain. potential leasing revenues dramatically overestimated; and failed to properly consult the indigenous peoples of the Gwich’in Nation of Alaska and Canada who settle on the Porcupine caribou herd migration route and rely on the herd for survival.
“The Bureau of Land Management shouldn’t be pushing this rushed lease sale. This agency acknowledged that huge amounts of carbon were released into the atmosphere through drilling, but claimed that there was no climate crisis. BLM has compromised the integrity of its analysis and the hardworking scientists and professionals dedicated to protecting the exceptional values of the coastal plain. BLM should delete this flawed check and start over. The agency needs to really carefully weigh all of the implications of oil and gas operations before making a lease sale.
“Trump administration officials have violated the law at the expense of a wondrous stretch of land that has supported indigenous peoples for thousands of years and that the vast majority of Americans seek to protect. Any company foolish enough to take part in this bogus trial must now know that we are fully committed to challenging these legally erroneous acts in court. The will of the American people and the rule of law will prevail. “
The public is encouraged to join these communities in opposing oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Further information can be found at: https://www.arcticrefugedefense.org/act/take-action