FAIRBANKS, AK ( MAY 12, 2022)- Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA) issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s announcement to not move forward with the Cook Inlet lease sale.
On the morning of May 11th, 2022, President Biden announced that he canceled oil and gas lease sales in Cook Inlet, Alaska. This is very welcomed news for environmental advocates like SILA. However, the reasoning behind this settlement is not. The Department of the Interior cited “lack of industry interest” as the reason behind this decision. Biden continuously promised to end the era of fossil fuels while on the campaign trail yet has continuously broken said promise and instead has catered to Big Oil.
If the leasing in Cook Inlet would’ve been approved, 1 million acres of southern Alaska would’ve been open to development for 40 years. Projects approved would’ve involved hundreds of miles of pipeline, especially underwater, which would undoubtedly have had catastrophic effects on surrounding ecosystems.
The Dena’ina, Alutiiq, and Yupik people have resided on the lands in and surrounding Cook Inlet for millennia. Many community members still subsistence hunt animals that are susceptible to the direct effects of pollution due to extractive resources. Ensuring the health of the land and water is ensuring the health of Indigenous peoples.
We are aware that gas prices are at an all time high and believe that working class Americans should not be the ones suffering the costs. However, American oil corporations are raking in record profits in the billions of dollars due to the war in Ukraine, most of it going directly to wealthy shareholders and oil executives. If the industry profit is going well and the jobs of the executives have not changed, why do citizens pay the price?