Internal memo reveals BLM knew of danger to Alaska's polar bears but moved ahead with oil exploration anyway

Recently leaked documents show just how willing the Trump administration was to toss aside facts when pursuing oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife RefugeObtained by Mother Jones, a September internal memo from the head of Alaska’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office warned that oil exploration in the refuge would threaten the region’s already imperiled polar bear population—and almost certainly past the legal threshold set by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The memo’s language contrasts sharply with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s repeated claims that the seismic surveys—in which trucks send vibrations deep underground to locate oil reserves—were harmless. In reality, the seismic surveys would come with convoys of trucks, as well as hundreds of support vehicles and crews, during the same winter months in which new polar bear cubs are particularly susceptible to disturbances. A silver lining: The damning document is evidence in the inevitable wave of lawsuits that will follow the Trump administration’s seismic permits.



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