On the 26th of September, residents of Inupiat villages in Alaska and some of their allies spoke out in Lafayette Park against plans to drill for oil on their land or offshore from it.
One of the speakers was from a village of 250 people, already facing dangers to their food supply from melting ice. With existing climate change, animal migration patterns are changing, the ice is disappearing-and villagers are feeding polar bears, something that NEVER used to be done.
Now, on top of all else, Shell and Conoco want to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and some leases have already been granted. Inupiat activists are demanding that Obama cancel these leases, buying them back if necessary. Otherwise, both the Inupiat and the polar bears are looking at the same fate: nothing left to eat. All that for just 3 years worth of oil-the amount believed to lie underneath what the settlers call ANWR, the “Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.”
Shell’s attempts at offshore drilling this year ended in failure, thanks to what little ice is left in the Arctic damaging their drilling rig. Hopefully this will buy enough time to stop them for good. Unfortunately onshore drilling on the coastal plain is also being promoted, and this land does not belong to the settlers who want the oil. Therefore, what is really being considered here is the outright THEFT of oil, at the price of severely damaging an unusually sensitive environment and destroying the culture indigenous to the area.