Three oil companies have canceled their leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Drilling in the refuge has long been a controversial issue, as the 19.5-million-acre wilderness area is home to 45 species of mammals including polar bears, bowhead whales and caribou and considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich’in people, according to the Gwich’in Steering Committee.
“These exits clearly demonstrate that international companies recognize what we have known all along: drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not worth the economic risk and liability that results from development on sacred lands without the consent of Indigenous Peoples,” the Gwich’in Steering Committee said in a statement.
The Anchorage Daily News first reported Thursday that the oil company Regenerate Alaska, a subsidiary of 88 Energy, had canceled its lease on the refuge’s coastal plain, as confirmed by the Bureau of Land Management.
“The Bureau of Land Management has a well-established procedure to do this, and last month rescinded and canceled the lease, as requested,” the Interior Department said in a statement reported by the Anchorage Daily News. “The Office of Natural Resources Revenue refunded (the) full bonus bid and first year rentals.”
Lead Image: Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Johnny Johnson / The Image Bank / Getty Images.
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