In 1993, during a month long canoe trip through the arctic I was honored with the privilege of witnessing one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet, a caribou migration. It was early summer and they were on there ~500 mile journey to the costal plain and their calving grounds. The Gwich’in call the coastal plain “the sacred place where life begins” and it is no wonder, for generations caribou has meant life to the Gwich’in.
Unfortunately the costal plain, or north slope of Alaska is now known for another “life giving” resource; oil. 19.6 million acres of the north slope and Brooks Range were set aside as a wildlife refuge in 1980. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR is arguably one of the largest pieces of preserved, intact ecosystems left on the planet. For the four decades there has been an almost relentless push by industry and Alaskan politicians to open ANWR to drilling and with every push a very firm resistance by congress and the American people.
Enter the current administration. Congress is now looking at opening ANWR to pay for the presidents tax “reform”. Proponents claim that the drilling for oil will only impact a small portion of “desolate wasteland” in the far corner of the reserve. A wasteland that caribou, muskox, polar bear and millions of migrating birds have been using for millennia. Is it really worth the risk of damaging the “sacred place where life begins” for what should be a fading industry?
For more information and to comment on the EIS see the links below