Trump Administration Announces Plan to Expand Oil Development in Alaska

Trump Administration Announces Plan to Expand Oil Development in Alaska

SOURCE: Yale E360 DATE: November 22, 2019 SNIP: The Trump administration announced a new plan that could open up an additional 6.6 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska to fossil fuel development, several news outlets reported. One of the plan’s proposals would allow drilling on 80 percent of the reserve, considered the largest undisturbed tract of public land in the United States. Created in 1923 by President Warren G. Harding, the National Petroleum Reserve was originally set aside as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy. Management of the land was transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 1976. The reserve is estimated to contain as much as 8.7 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, The Washington Post reported. Located on Alaska’s North Slope, the reserve is also an ecologically important area, providing critical habitat for thousands of migrating birds, caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, and wolverines. The Obama administration enacted a plan in 2013 that limited drilling to about 50 percent, or 11.8 million acres, of the reserve, with the other half protected for wildlife and cultural values, Reuters reported. But the Trump administration argued that new oil discoveries and the spread of oil development elsewhere on the North Slope justify the new, expanded plan. “With advancements in technology and increased knowledge of the area, it was prudent to develop a new plan that provides greater economic development of our resources while still providing protections for important resources and subsistence access,” Chad Padgett, BLM’s Alaska state director, said in a statement. The plan is now subject to a 60-day public review. The...
Trump administration takes key step to open Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling by end of year

Trump administration takes key step to open Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling by end of year

SOURCE: The Hill DATE: September 12, 2019 SNIP: The Trump administration announced a key step toward opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration Thursday, rolling out a plan that would see lease sales occur by the end of the year. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its finalized Environmental Impact Statement, which favors the option to offer lease sales across 1.56 million acres of Alaska’s coastal plains. “After rigorous review, robust public comment, and a consideration of a range of alternatives, today’s announcement is a big step to carry out the clear mandate we received from Congress to develop and implement a leasing program for the Coastal Plain, a program the people of Alaska have been seeking for over 40 years,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. Under law, the BLM now has a 30-day waiting period before it can open up calls from fossil fuel companies for tracts to bid on and file its finalized Notice of Decision. Officials say they anticipate holding lease sales before the end of the year. Critics warn that oil and gas development in ANWR would wreak havoc on populations of Porcupine caribou, polar bears and migratory...
Trump Moves to Open 16.7 Million-Acre Alaskan Rainforest to Exploitation

Trump Moves to Open 16.7 Million-Acre Alaskan Rainforest to Exploitation

SOURCE: Truthout DATE: August 28, 2019 SNIP: President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest — the planet’s largest intact temperate rainforest — to logging and other corporate development projects, a move that comes as thousands of fires are ripping through the Amazon rainforest and putting the “lungs of the world” in grave danger. The Washington Post, citing anonymous officials briefed on the president’s instructions, reported late Tuesday that Trump’s policy change would lift 20-year-old logging restrictions that “barred the construction of roads in 58.5 million acres of undeveloped national forest across the country.” The move, according to the Post, would affect more than half of the Tongass National Forest, “opening it up to potential logging, energy, and mining projects.” From the Washington Post: Trump’s decision to weigh in, at a time when Forest Service officials had planned much more modest changes to managing the agency’s single largest holding, revives a battle that the previous administration had aimed to settle. In 2016, the agency finalized a plan to phase out old-growth logging in the Tongass within a decade. Congress has designated more than 5.7 million acres of the forest as wilderness, which must remain undeveloped under any circumstances. If Trump’s plan succeeds, it could affect 9.5 million acres… John Schoen, a retired wildlife ecologist who worked in the Tongass for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, co-authored a 2013 research paper finding that roughly half of the forest’s large old-growth trees had been logged last century. The remaining big trees provide critical habitat for black bear, Sitka...
Alaska’s sea ice has completely melted away

Alaska’s sea ice has completely melted away

SOURCE: Mashable DATE: August 5, 2019 SNIP: Alaska’s exceptional summer continues. The most rapidly changing state in the U.S. has no sea ice within some 150 miles of its shores, according to high-resolution sea ice analysis from the National Weather Service. The big picture is clear: After an Arctic summer with well above-average temperatures, warmer seas, and a historic July heat wave, sea ice has vanished in Alaskan waters. “Alaska waters are ice free,” said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. “This is definitely an extreme year — even by more recent standards in a changed Arctic,” noted Walt Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Arctic sea ice has been either been at record lows or flirting with record lows throughout much of the summer. “I’m losing the ability to communicate the magnitude [of change],” Jeremy Mathis, a longtime Arctic researcher and current board director at the National Academies of Sciences, told Mashable in June, when sea ice levels were at their lowest point in the satellite record for that period. “I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scope of change we’re...
Alaskan glaciers melting 100 times faster than previously thought

Alaskan glaciers melting 100 times faster than previously thought

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: July 25, 2019 SNIP: A new way of measuring how some glaciers melt below the surface of the water has uncovered a surprising realization: Some glaciers are melting a hundred times faster than scientists thought they were. In a new study published today in Science, a team of oceanographers and glaciologists unpeeled a new layer of understanding of tidewater glaciers—glaciers that end in the ocean—and their dynamic processes. “They’ve really discovered that the melt that’s happening is fairly dramatically different from some of the assumptions we’ve had,” says Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder who was uninvolved with the study. Some of this calving and glacial melt is a normal process that glaciers undergo during seasonal transitions from winter to summer, and even through the summer. But a warming climate accelerates glacier melting across the globe, potentially through melting across the surface of the glacier, but also through underwater melting. Glaciers can extend hundreds of feet below the surface, explained Ellyn Enderlin, a glaciologist at Boise State University who was not involved with the study. Finding higher rates of submarine melting tells us that “glaciers are a lot more sensitive to ocean change than we’ve even thought.” Understanding the melting processes and calculating the amount of melt accurately is essential for planning for sea level...