Today, the Trump administration finalized it’s plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. This move overturns nearly five decades of effort to protect ANWR from drilling, with environmental groups fighting to block drilling since the Reagan administration.
The Interior Department has completed the required reviews, and has said it will began preparations to auction off leases of the refuge’s coastal plain. The first auction is expected to happen by the end of the year.
The coastal plain, known as Area 1002, is the most important land denning area for polar bears in winter and the birthing grounds for the Porcupine caribou in summer. The Gwich’in people rely on the caribou as a chief food source, as well as for clothing, and tools and ornaments.
Lawsuits are expected from environmental groups.