Administration Moves Closer to Opening Arctic Refuge for Oil

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Summertime view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Steven Chase/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The Trump administration is acknowledging its plan to open Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development would affect polar bears, tribal hunters and many others.

The administration released the draft environmental impact statement Thursday for its plan to sell oil and gas leases in the refuge. Publishing of the report moves the administration one step closer to realizing the plan, which environmental groups fervently oppose.

The report released by the Bureau of Land Management acknowledges oil exploration in the remote wilderness area would have an impact on Arctic wildlife and Native Alaskans. It puts four different options for handling any leases up for public review.

In a statement, outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calls the move necessary to an “energy-dominant America.”