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Feb. 12, 2018 – [ We are inviting teachers and scholars—elementary and secondary school teachers, college and university faculty, graduate students, independent scholars and writers, investigative journalists, librarians, editors, museum professionals, and other educators and researchers—from the United States, Canada, and around the world to join us in the campaign to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and uphold Indigenous Rights. This letter with all signatories will be submitted to the Bureau of Land Management on March 13, 2019, the deadline for public comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. To endorse this letter, send an email to thelastoil@unm.edu , with your name, affiliation, and state/province/country.]

A s teachers and scholars from across the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world, we are united in our opposition to oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. We strongly condemn the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program and the rushed process by which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepared the document. Downplaying the dangers of expanding fossil fuel development in the Arctic, and disregarding scientific data and concerns raised by Indigenous peoples, the BLM is also shutting the public out of the process, undermining a core purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Fossil fuel development in the Coastal Plain would devastate an Arctic nursery of global significance . It would violate human rights, jeopardize food security, and threaten the health and safety of Indigenous communities. It would contribute to the escalating crises of climate change and biological annihilation . The Arctic Refuge is an irreplaceable ecological treasure . Its fate should not be decided on an expedited timeline that prioritizes outcome over process to benefit the oil industry and its allies.

Ever since drilling proponents snuck an Arctic Refuge leasing provision into the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Trump administration has been moving aggressively to rush through the required Environmental Impact Statement. During the scoping phase of the EIS, the BLM held only one public hearing outside of Alaska—in Washington, DC, on a Friday night in mid-June 2018. Still, a large number of people showed up to voice their concerns about the ecological, cultural, and climate impacts of drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

Dismissing the concerns raised by the public and Indigenous peoples and “ relying on outdated and incomplete science ,” the BLM hastily assembled a draft EIS and released it on December 20, 2018, the day before the longest government shutdown in US history began.

The Neets’ąįį Gwich’in tribal governments of Arctic Village and Venetie, who worked in a government-to-government capacity in the EIS process, denounced the BLM draft. In a press release , the tribes claimed: “The draft goes so far as to boldly declare that oil and gas development in the caribou calving grounds will have no impact at all on the Tribe’s subsistence hunting practices.” Equally important is that the government did not adequately consult the tribes prior to the release of the document. “Today’s release was done with no prior notification to our Tribal Councils, who have met with the BLM for months on a government-to-government basis,” said Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government Executive Director Tonya Garnett. “The total lack of regard to our tribal governments on an issue of such importance really demonstrates how BLM leadership views their trust responsibility to our Tribes.”

The draft EIS set the deadline for public comments to end on February 11, 2019. On December 21, 2018, the […]

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