Fueling Change: Alaskan Communities Divided Over Oil Drilling
Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest national wildlife region in the United States. It’s home to a large variety of plants and animals, including the polar bear and the caribou. It’s also home to as much as 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. In 2017, Congress voted to open the pristine wilderness to oil and gas drilling, an area that has been off-limits to petroleum exploration for more than three decades. Some locals, including those working with the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. — one of 13 corporations created under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act — are in favor of the plan and its economic opportunities for community investment. However, a growing number of Inupiaq people are joining a national opposition concerned about serious environmental implications, loss of habitat and impact on Indigenous subsistence lifestyles.