Alaskan oil drilling gets fast-tracked by Trump
Man wants his black gold, nevermind the polar bears.
ALASKA — One of the wildest and most pristine places on Earth is about to be sacrificed on the altar of American greed, courtesy of Big Oil and Orangina in the White House.
National Geographic reports that when Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1980, Congress deferred a decision to manage 1.5 million acres of the coastal plain, which the USGS estimates to contain 10.4 billion barrels of oil.
For decades, opposition to drilling helped keep the refuge off limits. But Trump and the Republicans are now paving the way for oil exploration.
The New York Times reports that in 2017, a provision to allow for drilling in the Arctic refuge was inserted into a tax bill that was approved by the Senate and signed into law by the President. The provision authorized two lease sales of drilling rights for 400,000 acres each.
Drilling plans are overseen by officials committed to oil exploration. Opponents fear the process may not be impartial, especially with speedy and less rigorous environmental impact assessments.
Environmentalists are also concerned that seismic testing and eventual drilling in the refuge could threaten wildlife, including crucial habitats for caribou and polar bears.
Actual drilling may be a long way off, but if oil companies get their claws on the leases before the 2020 elections, it'll be difficult to stop drilling plans even if a Democrat takes back the White House.
Still, environmental groups are keeping a close eye on the proceedings. House Democrats are also promising to use their oversight powers on the leasing process.
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