The Trump administration is seeking to open a tract of land larger than the state of West Virginia in the Alaskan North Slope for oil and gas drilling, the Department of the Interior announced yesterday. The plan to open 18 million acres of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska would allow oil extraction on all of Teshekpuk Lake, the biggest lake on the North Slope, famous for its migratory bird and caribou populations, and could require some 240 miles of pipelines and 250 miles of new roads along with drilling pads and other industrial sites.
Environmentalists and Native activists sharply criticized the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska plan for its harm to the local Indigenous population and for endangering critical wildlife habitat. The plan would allow horizontal drilling under bird habitats and caribou calving grounds, which it claims will lessen the impact on wildlife. “Communities in the region already face unacceptable impacts on health, food security, and cultural sovereignty due to existing industry activity,” said a statement released by 10 environmental and Native organizations. (CNN, AP, Washington Post $, E&E $, Anchorage Daily News, Reuters)