Administration Disregards Climate Crisis and Ignores Indigenous Communities’ Objections
HELENA, MT – Today, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management began auctioning off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) leases to Big Oil. Leases were also potentially gobbled up by a State of Alaska entity backed by taxpayers due to low interest from the fossil fuel sector and banks. In the wake of this disastrous decision Accountable.US spokesperson Jayson O’Neill issued the following statement:
“Instead of helping Americans during the pandemic, the desperate Trump administration and oil industry-backed Alaska officials are teaming up to try sell off protected public lands to Big Oil in a cloak of secrecy. Our nation’s pristine and scared public lands should not be for sale. This fire sale process has been so mismanaged and marred by legal missteps and ethical lapses by Trump’s Interior appointees that no rational oil corporation or financial institution should place a bid.”
The oil and gas industry has long sought to develop the refuge’s prized 1.6-million-acre coastal plain, an area that is home to polar bears, vital to migrating Caribou, and sacred to the Gwich’in people. However, due to strong opposition, the growing climate crisis, and the legal morass created by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s mismanagement of the process, industry and financial backers have shown little to no interest in purchasing the leases. There are already four legal challenges to the lease sales.
With little interest from industry and banks, leases could be sold at rock bottom prices of just $25 per acre, providing little return to taxpayers. That has led to an unprecedented move by state officials that may not even be legal. The state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) authorized $20 million to bid on the controversial leases’ days before the holidays. The move was backed by oily former Alaska officials and an Alaskan real estate tycoon tied to both an Alaska Native Corporation supportive of developing in the fragile ecosystem and AIDEA.
Several former Trump Interior Department appointees have already spun through the revolving door to Big Oil and related corporations pushing to develop ANWR.