The 40-year fight over drilling for oil in one of the world’s wildest places, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is coming to a head. On Aug. 17, 2020, the Department of the Interior removed the final hurdle to allow oil industry bids for the right to drill in the refuge. Opponents say climate change is warming the Arctic twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and the plants, animals and people living there are struggling to adapt.
But this isn’t just a fight between environmentalists and oil companies – the Indigenous communities in the region also are fighting to be heard. Both the Iñupiat and the Gwich’in have roots in the refuge that go back thousands of years. The refuge is sacred land, and some Indigenous people are fighting to prevent drilling. But others say oil development is the best hope for the future of their community.
This episode originally was broadcast March 7, 2020.