The Indigenous cultures of the Gwich'in and Inupiaq peoples of Canada and Alaska's Arctic north, have lived in balance with nature for more than 10,000 years. Home to the Polar bear (categorized by conservationist as “vulnerable”), some of the last healthy populations of Musk Oxen and to the mighty Porcupine Caribou Herd, Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Range was formed in 1960 to protect an area approximately 13,900 square miles, and then expanded and renamed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1980.
A large swath (1.5 million acres) of coastal plain, designated as section 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1987, is and has been the birthing grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, one of the world’s largest migratory caribou herds in North America. During its designation, section 1002 was to be “reserved for potential oil and gas exploration and to be protected as habitat for critical species in the North”.
The Trump administration announced it will be auctioning off drilling rights January 6th 2021. This would include seismic testing within polar bear habitat critical for denning, and toward a fragile landscape threatened by climate change. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (including section 1002) must remain protected from industry and resource extraction. Wilderness must remain and must be fiercely protected. It is a treasure for all of North America, just the way it is, to its peoples and to future generations. We are calling for nationwide opposition to this bill, and to any future plans to sell off one of our last, greatest resources for a non-renewable energy and the profit and power generated for petroleum moguls.