BP Leaving the Arctic Signals Oil Companies Need to Listen to the Gwich’in Nation
Fairbanks, AK -- This week, BP announced that it was selling all Alaska assets, signaling yet again that drilling in the sacred homelands of the Gwich’in Nation is bad business. BP’s announcement was made on the heels of Arctic Refuge drilling advocate Joe Balash’s departure from the Department of the Interior, and a class action lawsuit and SEC investigation of the seismic exploration company SAExploration.
Leaders from the Gwich’in Steering Committee have been continually calling on companies, financiers, and the Trump Administration to respect the rights of the Gwich’in by not pursuing drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge.
Earlier this year, leaders of the Gwich’in Nation called out executives at BP America’s Headquarters in Denver, Colorado and met with senior executives from BP at their Annual General Meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The Gwich’in Steering Committee sees this announcement as further evidence that major business interests see the writing on the wall: the sacred calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd and the Gwich’in Nation are no place to drill.
This sacred landscape is key to the food security and way of life of our people, and was protected for generations until a provision in
the 2017 tax bill opened it for oil and gas leasing - an action which could be undone by a future Administration.
“We’re appreciative BP heard our demands and recognized that they’d have to answer to the Gwich’in and the millions of Americans who stand with us if they attempted to destroy the Arctic Refuge,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff. “The coastal plain is no place for drilling, and we will continue to send this message to Hilcorp and the rest of the oil industry until they pledge to leave our sacred lands intact.”
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