Today, days before Earth Day and during Earth Week, the Trump administration took another step in their push to open the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development: the Notice of Intent (NOI) will be released tomorrow on the 8th Anniversary of the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Tomorrow's announcement will initiate the scoping period for the Environmental Impact Statement on leasing in the Coastal Plain of the Refuge.
This will set in motion a 60-day comment period. We all know there's no shortage of public comment; now we must work to be sure we're heard.
What can we do in the next 60 days?
Attend public meetings. Demand to be heard. Meeting dates will be soon be announced in Anchorage, Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Kaktovik, and Utqiagvik, and possibly other communities "if there is a strong community interest." Demand that materials be available in Alaska Native languages, that community input be acknowledged, and that the ecological complexity of the Coastal Plain be addressed by the EIS process.
Submit comments with your knowledge of the Coastal Plain's ecological, cultural, and spiritual values. Flood the comment period with the voices this administration is attempting to block out. Encourage and help your friends and family write and submit comments as well.
Expect details tomorrow on meeting dates and times, and where to submit your comments online.
What can we do RIGHT NOW?
Use social and local media to highlight the undemocratic disregard for the voices and lives of Alaskans.
Senator Murkowski pushed for the passage of the tax bill last December without acknowledging the Gwich'in Nation's sacred ties to the Coastal Plain, or the countless other Alaskans who are committed to Refuge protection. Let her and others know, publicly and often, that Alaskans will not be silenced.
If you use Twitter, contact Senator Murkowski @lisamurkowski; Senator Dan Sullivan @SenDanSullivan; Governor Walker @AKGovBillWalker; Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt @DOIDepSec.
On Facebook, amplify the voices of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, Native Movement, and others who have been left out of the public conversation about Alaska's future. Share your own story about the Arctic Refuge. Follow the Northern Center on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.
Write a letter to the editor at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner or Anchorage Daily News countering the idea that all Alaskans are on board with this rushed attempt to undo a legacy of stewardship and protection in the Arctic Refuge.
For more on today's news and what Alaskans are saying, read these press releases from the Gwich'in Steering Committee, and this statement highlighting Alaska voices.
And please, take care of yourselves, and know that all you do on behalf of Alaska's lands is deeply appreciated by those of us here at the Northern Center, and beyond.