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President Obama excludes Arctic Ocean in 5-year offshore leasing plan

Posted by Northern Center at Nov 18, 2016 01:15 PM |

In line with the demands of local stakeholders and international climate agreements the Obama Administration excludes the Arctic Ocean for oil and gas leases from the offshore 5 year leasing program running from 2017-2022.

FAIRBANKS (November 18, 2016) - In line with the demands of local stakeholders and international climate agreements the Obama Administration excludes the Arctic Ocean for oil and gas leases from the offshore 5 year leasing program running from 2017-2022. 

Jessica Girard, the program director at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center notes "Here in Alaska we are living daily with the devastating impacts of climate change, the contamination of subsistence resources, and the purging of oil and gas economic revenue. In order to combat these impacts, we must stop all new fossil fuel development while simultaneously creating alternative revenue streams for our state, specifically our rural communities. This will take innovation and a re-framing of our values. I hope today's decision can become yet another reason to truly look at the alternative economies our state could depend on." 

Throughout the state and nation, community members from all backgrounds have demanded the removal of these leases in order to justly transition off oil and gas resources on public lands and waters. While we celebrate the removal of the leases in the Arctic and the Atlantic, we are disappointed the Obama Administration left lease sales in the Gulf, where communities are equally impacted by development and climate change. Girard continues, "We can no longer allow development sacrifice zones to carry us through the needed transition from fossil fuels. We as a nation have allowed areas such as the Gulf to live with the impacts of the energy we sell and use, without acknowledging these direct and indirect impacts to the communities living there. We stand in support of removing all leases from the offshore oil plans - it is a climate and moral obligation." 

The 5-year plan can be redone at any time by the next Administration, so we use encourage President Obama to establish permanent protections in the Arctic Ocean before he leaves office. Alaskans have been in overwhelming support of banning leases in the Arctic Ocean as shown in public documents and hearings, in exception our state leadership and the oil and gas industry. It is time for our state to stop looking to oil and gas industries to fund our economy, it is time to diversify and make space for economic innovation. 

The Northern Alaska Environmental Center is a non-profit promoting conservation of the environment and sustainable resource stewardship in Interior and Arctic Alaska through education and advocacy.

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