On November 17, 2020, the Department of Interior announced the Coastal Plan Alaska Oil and Gas Lease sale, a program for companies to bid on tracts in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northern Alaska. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) appears to be fast-tracking the process of collecting nominations and holding an auction so these drilling rights can be sold prior to Inauguration Day.
The process of approving the tracts and selling these rights can often take several months. Condensing this process into a matter of weeks leaves too little time for experts to examine the consequences of selling these permits to companies with environmentally invasive tactics. The ANWR spans nearly 1.6 million acres and is home to hundreds of species, and this negligence on behalf of BLM could lead to irreparable environmental damage.
CREW has requested all relevant internal communications involving ANWR bidding within the Department of Interior and external communications with the White House since August 1, 2020.
These hasty decisions are being made amid the Trump administration’s push to roll back dozens of environmental protections before leaving office. The proposed changes benefit mostly the oil and gas industries, including the companies that will be bidding for these drilling rights.
The requested records would shed light on the rushed process and overlooked effects on the environment and ANWR ecosystem in Alaska. The public deserves to know whether the government is intentionally neglecting the health and safety of the already-threatened wildlife across the state in order to benefit industry.