Analysis & Opinions - Union of Concerned Scientists

Trump's Rushed Oil Leasing in the Arctic: A Dumpster Fire of Desperation, Greed, and Crippling Loyalty Tests

| Nov. 25, 2020

These days the Arctic holds several distinctions. First, of course, it is the most rapidly warming place on Earth—warming at three times the rate of the rest of the planet. It is also home to some of the most spectacular ecosystems on Earth and incredible cultural diversity. But, unfortunately, the Arctic also stands out as a proving ground for the Trump administration's most naked disregard for public service.

The Arctic is now the epicenter for the administration's full-on assault on scientific integrity.

In a rush to hand over the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas interests, Trump's Interior Department has undercut science and federal scientists at every turn. They have minimized and sidelined existing sciencealtered scientific findings, and twisted themselves in knots to demonstrate that oil and gas development in a world class wildlife refuge would cause no harm. At the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for the approval process, one employee described the rushed process as confusing and "off the rails."

In a bizarre twist, the administration ultimately justified their decision to proceed with oil and gas lease sales by noting that climate change impacts are going to be so substantial in the Arctic's coastal plain that the damage from oil and gas development, by comparison, would have a negligible effect. In other words, the region is done for (due to global fossil fuel extraction, no less), so they should be able to extract whatever riches they can. Try telling that to the Gwich'in people who live in the Arctic and consider the ecologically sensitive region to be sacred....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Clement, Joel."Trump's Rushed Oil Leasing in the Arctic: A Dumpster Fire of Desperation, Greed, and Crippling Loyalty Tests." Union of Concerned Scientists, November 25, 2020.