Polar bears are seen on the Beaufort Sea coast within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Handout/Reuters)

I am sickened by the Trump administration’s last-minute effort to sacrifice one of the country’s most sensitive and iconic wilderness areas to oil drilling [“Drill plan for Alaska refuge is finalized,” front page, Aug. 18]. Most Americans will never take an Alaskan bush plane north of the Arctic Circle to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yet a clear majority opposes drilling there, honoring our nation’s generous tradition of setting aside irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage for future generations.

As director of the Sierra Club’s public lands program during the 1990s, I was privileged to visit the refuge and to celebrate the annual porcupine caribou herd migration with the Native Gwich’in community. These hardy people depend on the caribou for food, clothing and tools, just as they have for thousands of years, and their spiritual and cultural traditions revolve around the animals. They call the caribou calving grounds in the Arctic Refuge “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit,” meaning the sacred place where life begins.

President Trump’s desperate push to desecrate this precious and pristine piece of God’s creation before Jan. 20 dishonors indigenous culture, denies the climate crisis and gives the definitive answer to the question we have been asking for four years: Is nothing sacred to this man? No, nothing is. 

Melanie L. Griffin, Greenbelt

We’re already well into a not-so-slow-motion train wreck on climate change. Yet just one day after a record temperature of 130 degrees in California (amid other record-setting highs) [“At 130 degrees, Death Valley may have Aug. world record,” news, Aug. 18], the Interior Department decided to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling for oil and gas [“Drill plan for Alaska refuge is finalized,” front page, Aug. 18]. Isn’t it about time we take our foot off the accelerator pedal and apply it to the brakes instead?   

Putting a price on the carbon emissions from fossil fuels — a move overwhelmingly supported by economists — is the simplest, most direct way to start bending the curve in the right direction. And the longer we wait to start, the worse off the planet of our children and grandchildren will be.

Richard Juhnke, Arlington

The writer is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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