Oct 272017
 


When Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in the 1960s, the U.S. government had several goals in mind—chief among them protecting the region’s unique wildlife and wilderness.

But the region has one extremely contentious asset that has sparked controversy for decades—nearly 10.3 billion barrels of petroleum under the ground.

Now, Congress is proposing legislation through the budget reconciliation process that could open up this region to drilling. A partisan budget bill that is expected to pass this week could quietly allow companies to begin oil and gas operations in the state in order to offset budget and tax cuts.

Musk Oxen put up a defensive ring around their young. The Coastal Plain (or 1002) lands are threatened by potential oil development in Alaska’s ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). Photograph by Peter Mather, National Geographic Creative

The bill is supported by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose eyes are on the region’s petroleum. They say that resource is capable of generating $1 billion in government revenue.

Across the aisle, Democrats led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) are proposing an amendment that could protect the refuge. They say it’s essential to preserve one of America’s most expansive and untouched natural areas.

Drilling advocates argue that oil and gas extraction can be done safely, while environmentalists are quick to point out that accidents are possible and have happened on more than one occasion.

Essentially, Republicans argue that the refuge holds the keys to energy independence and an economic boom, while Democrats say oil and gas drilling will disrupt delicate ecosystems and the communities that rely on them. The debate represents a schism in American political ideology that claims to champion the same goals but attempts to meet those goals through totally different methods.

The 180,000 strong Porcupine caribou migrate thousands of miles each year to reach their calving grounds on the coastal plains of Alaska. The calving grounds are threatened by potential oil and gas development. Photograph by Peter Mather, National Geographic Creative

An aerial view of lands within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photograph by Peter Mather, National Geographic Creative

An arctic fox, Alopex lagopus, in tall grasses. Its coat is changing from winter white to summer brown. Photograph by Peter Mather, National Geographic Creative

Flurries of snow geese drift above the largest U.S.wildlife sanctuary. Photograph by LOWELL GEORGIA, National Geographic Creative

An oil well is drilled on native-owned land. Photograph by JAMES P. BLAIR, National Geographic Creative

A flock of black brant geese swimming away from shore. Photograph by JOEL SARTORE, National Geographic Creative

Migrating Birds and rainbow over the Arctic Ocean. Along the arctic coast of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photograph by Peter Mather, National Geographic Creative

So what’s at stake, anyway?

Wildlife and wilderness are vague terms, but the photos above show exactly what those words mean. The region is home to 36 species of fish, massive herds of caribou, and birds that migrate north from throughout the country.

As environmental reporter Craig Welch wrote for National Geographic about the Obama administration’s proposal to legally protect ANWR in 2015:

“It is the only refuge in the United States that is home to grizzly bears, black bears, and denning sites for polar bears, and it provides a wildlife corridor that stretches from the Canadian border across Alaska to the Chukchi Sea.”

All of this undisturbed wilderness is possible because the refuge spans a staggering 12 million acres on land, and 10 million acres offshore.

In a New York Times op-ed, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Martin Robards and George Schaller describe the region thusly: “This is a landscape of surprising beauty and biological diversity: 31,000 square miles of the craggy Brooks Range, valleys of spruce forest and flower-filled tundra extending north to the Arctic Ocean.”

Most Americans will never be able to visit ANWR, so photos and videos taken by those who can are the next best thing. View the photos above to see the refuge for yourself.

This article was first published by National Geographic on 18 Oct 2017.


We invite you to share your opinion whether the Alaska Refuge should be opened up for drilling? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should the Alaska Refuge be opened up for drilling?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop wildlife crime. By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.

 

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Janet Mitchell Hendricks

HELL NO!!!!!!!! IT’S WAY PAST TIME WE STARTED DOWNSIZING THE FOOTPRINT OF FOSSIL FUELS ON OUR NATION>

Joelle Jojo Mamour Barrier

v non bien sur !!!

Cathy Nolane

non

Michèle Lebourg

Voté Non;laissez les animaux qui y vivent ,tranquilles!!!

Annie Boulanger

Fait

Bernadette Charline Gustin

nonnnnnnnnnnnn

Isabelle Fernandès

Nous vous invitons à partager votre opinion si le refuge de l’Alaska devrait être ouvert pour le forage? Veuillez voter et laisser vos commentaires au bas de la page.

Le refuge de l’Alaska devrait-il être ouvert pour le forage?

Non (97%, 345 Votes)
Oui (3%, 12 Votes)
Je ne sais pas (0%, 0 Votes)
Nombre total d’électeurs: 357

Margie Gaynor

No absolutely NO haven’t we interfered with nature enough we need to have a place for theses beautiful animals to live. Leave nature wildlife alone.

Selora Lawrence

Nope.

Carolyn Clowes

No ,no no !!

Lynn Holman

Of course it damn well should NOT! Votes stand at NO 97%’ YES 3%

Jean Kennedy Patrick

ABSOLUTELY NO!!!!!

Jane Markel

no

Arlene Labbe

NO, NO, NO!!!

Caylee Manor

No

My Susann Eriksson

No (97%, 172 Votes)

Valerie Troup

No

Rena Andersch

Cant vote nor sign.

Ken Billington

You have to follow the link to vote: http://bit.ly/2i6NVIz

Maggie Frazier
Another redundant question! But one that needs to be asked! The idea of allowing this kind of destruction in one of the most vulnerable places on earth? Sure does fit the description of being pushed by knuckleheads! Apparently, the entire crew of this administration wants nothing more than to un-do every good regulation that was put in place previously. Good politics? don’t think so. The main object seems to be how much of OUR air, water & environment can they destroy and how fast can they do it? It doesn’t matter whether this bunch is republican or democrat at this… Read more »
Maggie Frazier
Also – there are very few wildlife “corridors” remaining here or anywhere else. Humans don’t need them! But wild animals do to migrate from one area to another – possibly for grazing or because of the seasonal weather. There has been an attempt to re-open one that I know of in the Western States but I’m sure that has been and will be a real up-hill battle. We don’t NEED this fossil fuel – we CAN create other alternative energies. This only benefits the 1% at the top. Why does the other 99% continue to allow it?
Sheila Dunleavy

NO!

David Ruether

NO!!!
We MUST begin to understand that IF we are to SURVIVE LONG-TERM on the only inhabitable planet that we are likely to have access to, we MUST CONTROL (and severely limit!) the environmentally degrading effects of our energy production! Unless we do this, we are shortening the term of our own existence (along with that of many other fellow inhabitants of this Earth). To do otherwise is an environmentally criminal act against our very existence! And, there are NO short-term conditions (such as finance issues) that can justify such an undesirable result as our hastened demise as a species.
–DR

Gitte Løyche

97% voting no!❤️

Jane Rudner

No!

Elbe Astel

NO ! ———– Already Signed & Shared

Annette Mcloughlin

voted no

Barry Frederick Baudains

Voted No. Never

Janna Werthem Davis

NO, USE GREEN ENERGY!!!

Irina Gorlovitski

NO!!!!!

Vicki Longwell

No

Lisa Reed

No

Judith Cavey

Voted NO!

Cheryl Robbins

Positively Not.

Linda Lucas

No way!

Tamara Sandusky

Just leave nature wildlife alone

Angela Hewitt

No

Dixie Shelton

Absolutely no!!!

Jenny Grinstead

No, not ever; else where will it stop?

John Evans

No!

Phyllis Rygh

NO!

Edith Kahle

No drilling and leave along

Michele Kelefas

Absolutely not it is one of the last pristine places left for wildlife.

Kaz Horrocks

No!

Renee Jones

No

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