The Department of the Interior
is trying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
in Alaska to energy development, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
has been instructed to update a rule in order to allow testing in the refuge, commonly known as ANWR, according to a memo published by both news outlets. If the proposal becomes final, energy companies will be able to be able to explore for oil and gas although the final authority on whether development occurs lies with Congress.
Alaska Native corporations stand to benefit from development. The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation
owns subsurface rights and the Kaktovik
owns surface rights to land within ANWR where
development could occur. Native residents anticipate jobs, revenues and economic
growth if Congress takes action.
But while Republican
supporters of drilling
have repeatedly cited benefits for the Native community, few
have tried to authorize development solely on their lands, which are held
in fee status rather than in trust. Instead they have focused on drilling in a larger
portion of ANWR's North
, also known as the 1002
A map of Alaska North's
Slope shows the "1002 Area" of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where oil
development could occur. Native owned lands are shaded orange. Image: U.S.
When their legislative vehicles fail, Republicans typically blame environmentalists and Democrats but some also have lashed out at the Gwich'in Steering Committee
oppose development out of fear it will destroy the caribou
herds in ANWR
that they depend on for subsistence. Some Gwich'in villages
are located within the refuge while others are across the boundaries.
The Trump administration memo does not give a timeline for action on the proposed rule. It does not appear to have been included in Interior's semi-annual regulatory agenda
The push to open ANWR development comes as little surprise. In May, President
proposed a budget that anticipated revenues from future oil and gas drilling.
"We're working with the tribes and the Native Alaskans that also depend largely on energy for their funding,"
Secretary Ryan Zinke
said during a conference
with reporters at the time.
Read More on the Story:
Trump administration working toward renewed drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
(The Washington Post September 15, 2017)
Trump Administration Moves to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling Studies
(The New York Times September 16, 2017)
Zinke plans to work with tribes on drilling push in Alaska