Groups seek to block lease plans for Alaska wildlife refuge

FILE – In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, caribou from the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrate onto the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. The Trump Administration has paved the way for an oil and lease sale in Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge scheduling a lease sale for Jan. 6, 2021, before the president leaves office later next month. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Indigenous and conservation groups asked a federal judge Tuesday to block the Trump administration from issuing oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The groups in separate filings requested a decision by Jan. 6, the date of a scheduled lease sale.

They say the issuance of leases and proposed seismic exploration should be halted pending resolution of their claims challenging the adequacy of environmental reviews on which the sale and exploration plans are based.

Karlin Itchoak, Alaska state director for The Wilderness Society, in a statement said the Trump administration’s “relentless pursuit of a lease sale and destruction of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge” forced groups to seek an injunction.

An email seeking comment was sent to the U.S. Interior Department press office.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which falls under the Interior Department, earlier this month announced plans to hold the lease sale Jan. 6, weeks before President-elect Joe Biden, who has opposed drilling in the region, is set to take office.

Last month, the land agency announced a 30-day period for parties to nominate or comment on land that could be available in a sale. The sale date was announced before the end of the comment period, and groups criticized the process as rushed.

Alaska political leaders for years have pushed to open the refuge’s coastal plain to exploration. But the Indigenous Gwich’in people have opposed development in the area, citing concern about the impacts on caribou on which they have relied for subsistence. Conservation groups also have fought drilling in the refuge.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: RBC latest bank that will not directly fund drilling projects in Alaskan Arctic refuge, CBC News

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland issues new exploration, prospecting licences to Anglo American, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Minister downplays environmental impact of planned mine in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: The Arctic Railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Conservation groups sue government over Alaska mining road, The Associated Press

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *