The Obama administration announced Friday that over 1.5 million acres of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) would be leased for drilling. Â The Reserve is an ecologically sensitive area west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and is important to bird migration. Â Lake Teshekpuk is located within the NPR-A and is the nesting ground to many species of migratory birds.
The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which totals 23.5 million acres, is (to this point) “the largest tract of undisturbed public land in the United States.” (Wikipedia) Â The Interior Department’s announcement indicated that the Reserve will be cut up and 190 tracts for oil exploration will be leased away to the highest bidders. Â The auction begins August 11, 2010 in Anchorage.
Brendan Cummings, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, says that it’s not just birds being put at risk with this move, but also caribou, wolves, and waterfowl.
The move is sure to gather criticism; aside from the wildlife implications, the Reserve was initially set aside to be a “last resort,” an emergency petroleum supply for times of war or other crisis. Â This author wonders if perhaps there is a deeper reason for this move beyond the obvious money-grabbing scheme. Â Is our oil situation worse than we thought? Â Are we running out of oil reserves? Â Or is this just about the money? Â It seems that oil policies need to be changed and our reliance on fossil fuels needs to end.