In a last-minute move before the end of his term as US President, Donald Trump will today auction off portions of the Arctic national wildlife refuge to oil drillers, presenting the biggest challenge yet to the refuge.

What is Happening?

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Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, says, “For us, it symbolises just what’s at stake here. If you can’t draw a line at the tundra and keep this one area of the Arctic off limits, then the question is, where can you draw the line and what protected part or wildlife refuge in the United States will remain off limits?”

Update January 8 2020. In a blow to the Trump administration to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel development, only half of the oil and gas leases offered for sale received bids, and all but two of those came from the state of Alaska itself. Only two companies, neither of them major oil producers, made bids to acquire 10-year rights to explore and drill for oil on two tracts totalling about 75 000 acres. A state-owned economic development corporation, offering the minimum of $25 an acre, was the sole bidder on the other tracts, totalling about half a million acres. The rights to another 400 000 acres remained unsold.

The administration said that the plan could bring in nearly a billion dollars, but the sale netted less than $15 million, with half of that going to the state. Environmental activists called it an “epic failure” for the Trump camp.

Featured image by: Flickr