(From The Guardian)
The Trump administration has announced it is considering a proposal to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas in the Arctic national wildlife refuge, the largest such preserve in the US.
If the plan moves forward, vehicles with “shakers” – diesel-powered equipment that sends tremors through the landscape – will be deployed along Alaska’s northern coastal plain in an effort to map underground hydrocarbon deposits.
SAExploration, the Colorado-based firm that would carry out the work, has committed to mitigating environmental impact by using large sleds, and non-industrial vehicles along ice roads, to minimize scarring and impact on flora and fauna. Nevertheless, airstrips would need to be built in the pristine wilderness to service the two 150-person teams in charge of the mapping.
Biologists and environmentalists argue that the testing will cause irreparable harm to the pristine wilderness. The Porcupine caribou herd, which migrates 1,500 miles through the refuge – the longest migration of any mammal on earth – ends its journey along the plain where the testing will take place. The caribou calve along the coast and provide critical subsistence food for the Gwich’in Nation, which has lived and depended on the land for thousands of years.