Arctic drilling is bad business

Here are a few reasons why

The Trump Administration is finalizing an environmental review of oil and gas development in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By the end of the year, companies may purchase leases to drill in this sacred place. Beyond the environmental and climate destruction, drilling in the Arctic Refuge is bad business.

Arctic drilling is bad business

Seismic company SAExploration is under investigation

SAExploration was the sole applicant to apply for a permit to conduct seismic testing in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge for the 2018/2019 winter season. A government shutdown, activist protests, and over 100,000 emails to the company's executive team delayed seismic testing. And now, the company is under investigation by the SEC and investors are filing a class action lawsuit. SAExploration has fired its general counsel, and CEO and Chairman.

Revenue from destroying the Arctic Refuge will only yield $45 million - less than 3% of what the Trump Administration forecasted

As a recent NYTimes article revealed, oil and gas development will only yield $45 million in revenue. This is less than 3% of the Trump administration’s original projection of $1.8 billion. A report from Taxpayers for Common Sense concluded, “Ultimately the alternative they proceed with will impact the amount of revenue taxpayers receive, but as we’ve shown above, any way you slice it, the sales will not generate anywhere near the billion-dollar mark used to justify the inclusion of drilling in the tax bill and place needless risk on taxpayers’ shoulders.”

BP is exiting Alaska. What does the oil giant know that you don’t?

In late August, BP announced that it’s selling its assets in Alaska including its 49% share in the Trans Alaska Pipeline, and “non-operating interests in exploration leases in ANWR.” BP is also one of two companies who has the results of a lone exploratory well that was drilled in the coastal plain decades ago. Clearly, the results were not promising. The $5.6 billion sale to private company Hilcorp indicates that BP sees the writing on the wall: Arctic drilling is bad business and a bad investment.

The public pressure and scrutiny on companies associated with drilling will be intense

Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is an unacceptable act that flies in the face of the rights of the Gwich'in. Banks and investors have seen what happens when an oil company dares to go against the will of the people and trample the rights of Indigenous peoples whose lands we have stolen. We saw it with the Dakota Access Pipeline, we saw it with the Keystone Pipeline, and we see it with the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Imagine what would happen to the companies who try to develop the coastal plain.

Activists rally outside the BP HQ in Denver.
Photo Credit: Justin Forrest Parks

Brief summary

Despite years of hard work to permanently protect the Refuge from oil and gas activity, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski pushed through a provision in the 2017 tax bill that requires the sale of oil and gas leases. Since then, the Trump administration has expedited the environmental review process, cutting corners and modifying comments from career agency staff. A final environmental impact statement is expected in fall of 2019, with a lease sale shortly after.

The Gwich’in call the coastal plain “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” or “the sacred place where life begins.” It’s the calving and nursery grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, a key food source for the Gwich’in people. Every year the Porcupine caribou undertake an incredible trek starting in the Northwest Territories to reach this safe haven. It goes without saying that any industrial activity, like oil development, would be devastating to caribou calves, and subsequently the Gwich'in people.