Oil Drilling in the Arctic: Why We Should Care

  • February 17,2021 

With everyone’s attention focused on domestic politics, big oil companies and their associates have made fruitless attempts to drill in the semi-pristine state of the Arctic Reserve. For the past three years, the Trump Administration has attempted to acquire permission to exploit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge located in Alaska. If they were to accomplish said goal, the outcome could severely affect the environment and wildlife around it.

Intending to drill for oil in the Arctic Reserve, the Trump Administration has sped up the process that ordinarily takes years to determine the environmental impact. The typical process also includes evaluating 

Photo obtained from earthjustice

effects on the indigenous people, other residents of the area, the flora, and the fauna. However, according to Alaska Public, the administration had put this approval on a fast track to accomplish this task before Joe Biden got sworn into office on January 20th, 2021.

The rush to drill has left indigenous people, environmentalists, and local citizens feeling unrepresented. These groups have said that they guarantee that anybody receiving drilling rights in the Arctic Reserve will be met with litigation that will tie up all the drilling plans in knots indefinitely. Although the start of litigation will prevent drilling for as long as ten years, Biden is expected to cancel drilling rights before then. This might impact oil companies for the worse, considering it may force them to find other oil sources that can be more expensive and cause a shortage. However, it is the right decision to create a sustainable future for the planet. Karlin Itchoak, director for the Wilderness Society in Alaska, told Alaska Public,“And we’re going to do everything we can to prevent oil and gas development from ever happening on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge.” 

Interestingly enough, big oil companies did not bid on the rights to drill on the arctic circle. However, two small private investors have made a bid for two parcels and are mainly speculating because neither are oil drilling companies. The state of Alaska has bought several parcels hoping that if they win the litigation, they can sell their rights to big oil for a profit, which would also make Alaska a speculator. The Good News Network reported, “In fact, of the 22 parcels of land, totaling 1.1 million acres, the government of Alaska was the sole bidder and ended up winning leases on 9 of the 12 parcels that received bids. Merely two were acquired by private companies, and the others that received no interest were withdrawn from this round of auctions.” 

Therefore, the rushed project was a fluke. It was all fuss and fury bending laws and regulations to end up right where they started: with no drilling in the Arctic Reserve. Not only that, but banks are not willing to fund any plan that is unpopular with environmental groups or against public opinion. Sierra Club announced, “Yesterday, Bank of America said it is ruling out financing for oil and gas development in the Arctic ... Now, all six major US banks have committed to not finance the destruction of one of our last truly wild places.”

People need to stand up against injustice and protect nature since it plays a massive role in our lives. While it is a good thing that no major oil companies wanted to drill in the Arctic, and banks would not help fund this project, it is still bizarre that this would even be an idea if there were so many horrible repercussions. We need to take better care of our environment because it is what we live on and around, and if destroyed beyond repair, it will not bode well for humanity. 

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