By Maurice Carter, Sustainable Newton President
On June 1, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order temporarily suspending oil and gas drilling leases for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. The controversial leasing program was finalized in August 2020 during President Donald Trump's final year in office.
President Biden's order cited "legal deficiencies" with the current program and "inadequacy" of the previous review process. As a result, the US Department of the Interior is initiating a "comprehensive environmental analysis to review the potential impacts of the Program and to address legal deficiencies in the current leasing program’s environmental review." That review will include public comments and testimony, starting with six sessions this week.
On September 14, at the invitation of Environment America and representing Sustainable Newton, I delivered virtual testimony before the Federal Bureau of Land Management Alaska Field Office. You can read the text of my verbal testimony here. You can also view the presentation from the bureau and listen to all of yesterday's testimony in the Facebook Live video below. (My testimony begins at the 28:04 mark.)
This review process is currently in the initial scoping period through October 4, which is the time during which public comments are welcome and can help to identify or reinforce areas to be addressed during the review and analysis. You can register on the project website to give oral testimony this week via Zoom.
You can also submit comments in writing by visiting the Documents page on the site and clicking the green Participate Now button to the right of the screen.
In my testimony, I elected to focus on the reasons why oil and gas exploration is an unnecessary risk to take in in such an environmentally fragile area, in light of advancements in electric transportation and renewable energy that are making fossil fuels economically non-viable and certainly no longer essential to our future.
For more ideas on points to make when testifying, you can visit Environment America's Protect the Arctic campaign page.
Speak up for the indigenous Gwich'in people whose very sustenance is being threatened. Stand up for the wild life and unspoiled beauty we cannot afford to lose. Be a voice for generations of Americans who will live with the consequences of short-sighted exploitation of the Arctic region and long-term consequences of a continued thirst for oil -- even when clean energy technology already here and already cheaper today.