This morning President Donald Trump just told Fox & Friends that he should go down as the “greatest environmental president” in history for signing the Great American Outdoors Act but he then proudly listed an array of rollbacks and attacks on environmental protections. If anything the President was understated in his damaging policies to the environment, including his opposition to efforts to deal with greenhouse gases and climate change. What made this statement the most glaring for many of us is that this morning the Wall Street Journal disclosed that Trump is likely to open up the pristine Arctic refuge area to drilling — an act of breathtaking loss to our natural park and wild refuge areas.
For thirty years, Republican and Democratic presidents have refused continual demands of oil companies to develop this pristine area. Three decades of protection could now be lost in a rush to open up the wildness area before the election. That would make it difficult for a possible Biden Administration to stop this damage.President Trump acknowledged that he is moving to open up the 19-million-acre wilderness to drilling for the first time and notably tied that decision (and other environmental rollbacks) to the election. He stated that voters in these states should vote for him for helping their economies.
Such drilling operations would impact already struggling polar bear populations and cause development of an area left in its natural state for decades. As many of you know, I love Alaska and our national parks (You can search Denali or Alaska to see some of the pictures like this one from past hiking trips). This approval is devastating news to those of us who love the natural beauty of Alaska. This area between the Arctic Ocean to the north and Canada’s Yukon to the east is considered one of the most unique places in the world. It will now be developed for oil at a time when the world has too much oil and demand is falling.
Congress passed a mandate to lease oil from part of the refuge in its tax overhaul in 2017 and many of us objected to the move. Various banks and major financial groups have pledged not to fund such ANWR drilling due to its damage to these natural areas. The approval will mean roads, drill pads, and hundreds of miles of pipe line.The 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 200 migratory bird species as well as other populations of wolves, musk ox and the 130,000-member porcupine caribou herd.