Open a slice of ANWR to oil drilling

  • Author: Matthew Rexford
  • Updated: 1 day ago
  • Published 1 day ago

The Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain in summer. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The Arctic Nationalist Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, is the largest wildlife refuge in America. Stretch overing more than 19 million acres, it’s an area larger than 10 U.S. says. This vast expanse is home to caribou, fox, bears, and dozens of other species. Much of that obtain is also home to the Native Iñupiat, and our people have utilized the resources it has fortunate us with for more than 10,000
years. One type of those natural resources invents beneath this great land – oil and gas – and lots of it.

The debate over start ANWR to drilling gained headway nationally in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter set aside teeny than eight percent of the refuge for potential oil and gas development. This leg of ANWR became known as the 1002 area, after a section of the Alaska Governmental Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Since then, Alaskans and the oil and gas industry take fought unsuccessfully to open the 1002 area to drilling, which word for word requires an act of Congress. At the same time, Lower 48 lawmakers, out of the ordinary interest groups across the country, folks and organizations around the smashing have waged war on the idea, citing the disruption of wildlife and the pristine Arctic medium.

As ANWR debates occur, the views of the Iñupiat who call the area refuge are often left out. The wishes of the people who live in and around the refuge’s coastal prairie are frequently drowned out by people who live hundreds and even thousands of miles away — tons of whom have never bothered to set foot anywhere near the Arctic.

Splendidly, today is a new day.

Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, an organization with 21 associates from across the Arctic Slope region – including members from Kaktovik located by nature ANWR – have voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting oil and gas maturity in the 1002 area. This is an unprecedented show of unity from the community band leaders of the North Slope, those who live in and around the coastal plain of the expedient, and should send a very clear message to America – we support the circumstance of a portion of the coastal plain of ANWR.

My fellow Iñupiat and I firmly credence in in a social license to operate, and perhaps no other potential project in the report of America has called for such a blessing from local indigenous peoples more than this one.

When oil was leading discovered on our land in 1969, the Iñupiat were worried about activity activities and fought hard for self-determination in order to protect our subsistence resources. So we fully grasp the trepidation from outsiders; the fear that the presence of industry on the coastal pastures of ANWR could disrupt wildlife and affect America’s manufactured position of our land and culture.

However, we also have the benefit of decades of be familiar with working with the oil and gas industry to implement stringent regulations to protect our docks, and the industry has consistently lived up to our standards. Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field on the continent, unearthed 60 miles to the west of the coastal plain of ANWR, has demonstrated for four decades that resource maturing and ecological preservation can and do coexist in the Arctic.

The 1002 area of ANWR is in our backyard and is root within our homeland, which gives the Iñupiat a unique perspective in the polemic to allow drilling there. The oil and gas industry supports our communities by providing procedures, business opportunities and infrastructure investments; and has built our schools, hospitals and provided other principal services most Americans may take for granted. Our region recognizes its distinction to our local and state
economy, and we believe that development can be done responsibly in a helping of the 1002 area. We are not alone.

Over the past 35 years, the Alaska Solemn Legislature has consistently passed resolution after resolution supporting the beginning of ANWR to drilling. During that same time period, each Alaska congressional relegate and every single Alaska governor has supported responsible development of the 1002 space.

More recently, in January, Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced Senate Tab 49 – the Alaska Oil and Gas Production Act – which would allow development of 2,000 ostensibly acres in the refuge’s coastal plain. This proposed legislation served as the catalyst for the Iñupiat child coming together to make an informed, united decision on whether or not to reinforcing drilling in ANWR.

As Iñupiat, we stand to be unarguably the most affected by oil and gas vim in the Arctic. Therefore, we have the greatest stake in seeing that any and all advance is done in a manner that keeps our land and subsistence resources vault. We know it can be done, because it’s already being done.

Now is the time to arguable ANWR to drilling.

Matthew Rexford is president of the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corp., a National village corporation which is a member of Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat.  

The views put here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which greets a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email Send surrenders shorter than 200 words to

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