The 2018 elections may prove highly consequential for environment and energy policy, possibly slowing or even reversing the Trump-GOP deregulatory agenda. The latest Issue Backgrounder helps reporters frame the choices voters face, including environmental justice and offshore drilling.
Alaska and Hawaii
"The Interior Department has approved a land swap deal that will allow a remote Alaskan village to construct a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, according to local officials. The action effectively overrules wilderness protections that have kept the area off limits to vehicles for decades."
Long-standing disputes over exploitation of public lands bubble over as the Trump administration advances campaign promises to ease restrictions on energy development. A special TipSheet, part of our 2018 Journalists' Guide to Energy & Environment, has resources for covering public lands-related issues as they play out in the coming year.
"The would-be developer of the widely opposed Pebble Mine copper and gold project in salmon-rich southwestern Alaska announced on Thursday it will file its first application for a permit."
"Even as climate change shrinks some populations of arctic animals like polar bears and caribou, beavers may be taking advantage of warming temperatures to expand their range. But as the beavers head north, their very presence may worsen the effects of climate change."
"President Trump on Wednesday was poised to sign the new tax bill, passed by Congress, which lifts a decades-old ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska. ... Will exploration begin immediately? No. Both supporters and opponents say it could be years before the first lease sale, a precursor to any drilling."
"These satellite images of a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge show the site of what, so far, is the only oil well ever drilled in the refuge, an exploratory well known as KIC-1 that was completed in the mid-1980s. The well was plugged and abandoned, and the drilling equipment and a special timber pad it sat on have long since been removed."
"Melting permafrost and major storms are eating away at the coastal Alaskan village of Newtok. Residents are desperate to move, but the U.S. has no climate change relocation plan that could help them."
"A tax cut compromise reached Wednesday by GOP negotiators contains a plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said."
Almost a dozen investigations are underway at the U.S. EPA and the Interior Department, including of unusual travel, private sector connections and staff/advisory panel moves. This week's TipSheet runs down the probes in detail, and offers resources for coverage of developments in 2018.