Despite protections put in place last year, America’s fragile and treasured Arctic could soon open up to a new wave of risky oil and gas drilling.
Every five years, the US Department of Interior creates a plan that says where oil and gas companies can purchase leases for offshore drilling. The most recent one, finalized in January, excluded new oil and gas leasing in the Arctic waters offshore of Alaska. But now the Trump administration is starting a process to change that plan, which could lead to the removal of important Arctic protections and authorization of new leasing in this incredible landscape.
The Arctic was kept out of the most recent five-year plan to protect the marine mammals, seabirds, and other wildlife that live there, along with their migratory paths and sensitive habitats. And native communities in Alaska continue to depend on the health of these subsistence resources for survival.
We cannot risk an oil spill in this remote part of the world. Cleanup methods are ineffective in broken ice and other severe weather conditions in the Arctic. This means any large oil spills or well blowouts would be catastrophic to the amazing life in the Arctic Ocean.