The Aug. 22 The Energy 202 article “Arctic oil plan moves forward despite agency’s concerns” [PowerPost] shed light on Congress’s and the administration’s truly egregious efforts to industrialize the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. These efforts began with language slipped into last year’s tax bill mandating leasing on the refuge’s fragile coastal plain and continue under a rushed administrative process burdened by a severe lack of transparency or public input.
The administration is pushing three-dimensional seismic exploration across the entire 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, aiming to begin this winter, racing ahead on a seismic application that was already deemed insufficient for review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If approved, fleets of seismic “thumper trucks” would drive across the tundra, accompanied by 50-trailer sled camps and tractors, bringing airstrips, noise and extensive disturbance. The impacts to tundra and wildlife, especially the imperiled polar bear, would be severe. And yet, the Bureau of Land Management is sticking to its story that the potential impacts of seismic exploration would be insignificant, and the agency could bypass additional public input altogether.
The BLM has showed a reluctance to engage in a truly meaningful environmental and public process from the start, so it’s no wonder its leaders want to stick their fingers in their ears about what the public and experts think.
Kristen Miller, Washington
The writer is conservation director for
the Alaska Wilderness League.