Letter: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge belongs to us | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge belongs to us

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its 19.6 million acres of untouched land is our largest tract of publicly owned land. It is so remote that most of us will only see it on the pages of National Geographic, but for thousands of years, it has been the ancestral home of the Gwitch’in, an indigenous people who share the land with polar bears, wolves, caribou and at least 200 migratory bird species.

As one of Trump’s many last minute acts, he wants to grant drilling leases to his friends, the oil industry. For decades, Congress dodged the requests to open the area for drilling but in 2017, a rider allowing leases was slipped into a tax bill, and it passed.

Why the rush? The environmental impact studies have been short-circuited. There is oil there but not enough to make a dent in our current consumption. Drilling requires heavy equipment, and the land in question is tundra and permafrost. It will take decades for the land to recover. An oil spill in the tundra would likely render the land unrecoverable.

Besides, a majority of the country supports a reduction in carbon emissions and a move toward renewable energy. According to the Sierra Club, Trump’s plan to open the refuge for oil drilling could create emissions equivalent to 898 coal plants or 776 million cars.

All that damage, and we don’t even need the oil.

Why do I care so much? I used to live in Alaska, and there was an often heard saying, “Once you have been here, you never go all the way home.” The same applies to the Rocky Mountains. Once you learn to love the land, the love affair lasts forever regardless of where you go.

Please, they will only accept written comments but let the Bureau of Land Management know the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge belongs to us and must be protected. Comments must be received by Dec. 17 and should be mailed by Dec. 10 to be safe. Send comments to: State Director, BLM Alaska State Office, 222 West 7th Avenue, Mail Stop 13, Anchorage, AK 99513-7504.

Linda Delaney

Steamboat Springs


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