Will the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be drilled for oil?September 19, 2019
Arctic wildlife could be at risk if a plan hatched in the US and backed by President Trump goes ahead, and environmentalists are concerned. This part of Alaska is one of the last untarnished landscapes in America. The scale of the project is put into context when you consider that this landscape encompasses 1.5 million acres.
What kind of wildlife lives in the Arctic?
Species include polar bears, porcupine caribou, walruses, bowhead whales and countless migratory birds. The natives, the Gwich’in, are the Athabaskan-speaking First Nations people of Canada and Alaska, and they depend on the environment for their survival. For information on what some organisations are doing worldwide to try to work in harmony with the environment and preserve this important landscape, see https://wwf.panda.org/?199975/Saving-the-Arctic.
Polar bears are of particular concern because they den underground. These dens are not always visible and would not necessarily be spotted by infrared cameras. These bears are incredibly well insulated, so they have to move slowly to avoid the possibility of overheating.
What happens in the Arctic affects the rest of the planet. Global warming is already happening. As the earth warms up, sea levels rise. Polar bears depend on summer sea ice for hunting seals. Drilling for oil will play havoc with the natural environment and this habitat, which is home to so many important species.
This plan by the US government is one of many environmental issues facing the petrochemical industry. The issues are diverse and range from using a soil remediation service such as that available from https://soilfix.co.uk/services/groundwater-soil-remediation-services as part of the decommissioning process for on-shore facilities to lessening the environmental impact of new terminal construction.
When might this drilling start?
A bill was passed to sell leases to drill oil and gas in 2017. The final stage of this plan was released very recently. There is time to reverse the decision and save this spotless wildlife refuge, both for the natives and for the animals at stake. On the same day that the bill was passed to start this process, the House of Representatives passed another bill to propose that drilling should be halted. Although extraction would probably not commence for at least 10 years, preliminary work will include the construction of roads, seismic testing and the introduction of drills.