Interior Department Is Cutting Corners and Ignoring Science in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Center For American Progress
Americanprogress.org - Fri 11 Jan 00:20 GMT

Interior Department Is Cutting Corners and Ignoring Science in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Center For American Progress

The Trump administration’s inadequate environmental assessment dramatically underestimates the damage that drilling for oil in the refuge would cause.

  Significantly, no new scientific data were collected for the DEIS—though an independent 2018 U.S. Geological Survey report found that there are many data gaps and a significant amount of outdated information on coastal plain resources and the potential impacts of oil and gas development in the refuge.

  This column discusses five of the many areas where the rushed assessment fails to capture the full impacts of drilling in the Arctic Refuge: oil spills; destruction of polar bear and caribou habitat; increased carbon pollution; surface disturbance; and water consumption.

  More than 77 percent of the coastal plain—the area of the refuge under consideration for leasing—serves as critical denning habitat for polar bears, with a concentration of maternal dens in areas the DEIS identifies as having high oil and gas potential.

  The DEIS avoids providing a clear estimate of how much water will be required for energy development, but a CAP analysis of numbers scattered throughout the document finds the potential water consumption of drilling the Arctic Refuge to be staggering—billions of gallons per year—and inconsistent with the continued provision of clean water for fish and wildlife species in the area.

  Available fresh water in the coastal plain is scarce and growing scarcer, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, has flagged concerns about the “cumulative impacts of all stages of oil and gas development” on water and, subsequently, the “populations and habitats of fish and wildlife.”