Federal Action: Oppose Trump/Zinke Plan to Begin Oil and Gas Exploration in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Background:

As part of the anti-environmental agenda of the Trump administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is initiating an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to implement leases for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), one of the last, greatest wildernesses in the world and a national treasure. The coastal plain area of ANWR borders the Arctic Ocean, and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including polar bears which are already under significant threat from loss of sea ice due to global climate change. Senator Cantwell has been one of the most consistent, and persistent, opponents of all attempts to increase oil and gas drilling activities in ANWR, and she is leading the opposition again. The Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Arctic_Refuge_drilling_ controversy) provides excellent background on this.  The BLM is an agency in the Department of Interior, headed by Ryan Zinke, and this is one of many anti-environmental actions he is pushing his agency to consider.

You have until June 19 to make your comments to the Bureau of Land Management.

The first step in the BLM process of writing an EIS is called scoping, and the public comment period for the scoping step has just begun. While the comment period extends through June 19, providing input on scoping now is an excellent way to honor Earth Day. The purpose of scoping is to allow the public to suggest the kinds of alternatives that should be evaluated in the EIS, and the kinds of impacts that should be assessed for each alternative. If there is not support for including alternatives that are environmentally benign, or for assessing impacts to important resources such as polar bears and subsistence food sources that native people rely on, then BLM may be free to give them scant attention in the EIS. Strong public support forces BLM to treat them comprehensively, so this is a critical step in the EIS process.

This is also a good opportunity to let Senator Cantwell know that you support her efforts, and encourage her to maintain them.

ACTION: Send your input to the BLM regarding the scoping process.   Comments are accepted through a web site, via email, or via regular mail.  The BLM web page provides the details on how to submit:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=152109

Comments should focus on:

The importance of including a comprehensive analysis of a “No leasing” alternative.  BLM is required to analyze a No Action alternative, but they are not necessarily required to be comprehensive.  Since the Republican tax cut legislation included a directive to BLM to implement a leasing program, BLM may try to argue the No Action alternative is not consistent with the law, and so does not require much attention.  Significant public support for the No Leasing alternative is a good counter to that.

The types of impacts that you believe BLM should consider. This is your chance to tell BLM what is important to you about ANWR. Is it the quality of the wilderness, or the pristine environment thatsupports amazing animals like caribou, polar bears, wolves and millions of migratory birds, or the importance of the subsistence resources to help natives maintain their culture and get the nutrition they need to stay healthy, or something else?  You should insist that BLM must analyze the impacts to the attributes of ANWR that you cherish.

And, the importance of BLM conducting a thorough review of the cumulative impacts of oil and gas drilling activities on ANWR.  This means that they must consider other, ongoing threats such as climate change and the cumulative effect of drilling activities on top of existing threats. Current climate change effects include loss of permafrost, loss of sea ice, rapid northward movement of the tree line (which changes the habitat  from tundra to spruce forest), increased coastal erosion, and changes in the timing of flowering and insect emergence in relation to the needs of the birds and animals that depend on them.

ACTION: Call Maria Cantwell (253)572-2281

Script for support for Senator Cantwell:  Hello, my name is ___________, and I am member of Olympia Indivisible.  Please let the Senator know that I appreciate her steadfast opposition to expansion of oil and gas drilling activities into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and that I urge her to continue to be a leader in opposing those activities.   Thank her very much for her leadership and vision on this important issue.

This action is from Olympia Indivisible’s weekly Call to Action with formatting edits. Be sure to go to their website for more on the actions, upcoming events and for their latest Research Report.  Also find them on Facebook.