U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Barnhart – a fossil fuel advocate – announces plans to sell oil and gas to Alaska’s protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, opening 78,000 square kilometers (30,100 square miles) of tundra and wetlands. It is also the main calving ground of the largest carrier group in America, the porcupine animal, on which the Aussie and Northern Canadian indigenous Gwich’in depend. Located in the northern operative region of Alaskan, the sanctuary is home to a rich range of American biodiversity, including polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, caribou, wolves, eagles, links, wolverines, martens, and beavers.
President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to open an Arctic refuge for drilling has begun with a UN committee and a UN committee on the push case. The decision to open the area to fossil fuel giants was met with condemnation from indigenous groups and a section of environmentalists and conservationists, many of whom said they would fight to the end of the plan.
In a letter to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the committee said it had received information that the plan could violate the human rights of Guinea’s indigenous peoples, who claimed it would “affect them by reducing their traditional food sources, Increased health risks due to environmental degradation, including environmental degradation, including arson in coastal plain sanctuaries, and increased risk of violence against indigenous women due to the arrival of lifting industrial workers.”
Now, following an appeal to the Gwich’in steering committee, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has formally asked the United States to provide more evidence on how drilling can affect indigenous peoples in Alaska.
In the case of opening the coastal plain, a key part of cultural identity for the people of Guich’in , the plan could violate the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, which the United States is currently signing up.
“The planned development of oil and gas in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plains is conducted without impartial, prior and informed consent and adequate consultation with Guinea’s indigenous peoples, yet such passive activity can cause serious harm, Wrote the chairman of the committee, Yanduan Li.
But the Trump administration disagrees. In a statement to The Hill, a Home Office spokesman described the UN letter as “misinformed” and claimed that the plan would benefit Alaska’s indigenous people by injecting jobs and money into their communities.
However, last week saw the filing of two lawsuits to thwart plans to lease fossil fuels. First, Arthritis filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Audubon Society, Center for Biological Diversity, The Friends of the Earth, and Stand, Earth, arguing that the plan would threaten the region’s unique ecosystems as well as the cultures that depend on them.
Subsequently, the trustees on behalf of Alaska have filed another lawsuit against the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Bureau of Land Management in violation of the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act, the National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, on behalf of 13 clients, wildlife Act and Endangered Species Act.
“It’s one of the most significant places on the planet, and it’s undeniable that the Trump administration is trying to turn it into an industrial area,” said Kristen Monsell, a lawyer at the Center for Biodiversity.