Don’t make the natives pay for Willow

For Indigenous peoples, standing up for our rights to clean air and clean water, continuing to live off the land, and protecting the sanctity of Mother Earth is the fight of our lives. Unfortunately, communities like mine are still ignored at every turn and left to fend for ourselves as the devastating effects of our current energy policies destroy our way of life.

This is exactly what is happening now as President Biden Barrels toward ConocoPhillips project approval In Alaska, just a stone’s throw from home. The Biden administration is pushing ahead with a massive oil and gas project that is a climate disaster waiting to happen while refusing to listen to the voices of my constituents and my community, who will bear the brunt of this project with our health and livelihoods.

Make no mistake, Willow will be the largest new oil extraction project on federal land and will irreversibly damage sensitive Arctic landscapes. The proposed development will include building of up to 250 oil wells, 37 miles of gravel roads, 386 miles of pipelinesairstrips and processing facilities.

My hometown, Nuiqsut, is the closest town to the proposed Willow project, and we have a lot to lose. Our people feed their families with traditional subsistence activities such as fishing, hunting caribou, moose, fowl, and more. The massive infrastructure of the Willow Project will do scraping straight through these important habitatsRedirecting animal migration paths, driving them away from neighboring villages and endangering the food security of the local population. Not to mention the damage caused by exposure to Air and water pollution that we are facing.

recent studies It showed that the Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world. With oil exported and sent all over the world, our Arctic communities are left to deal with the health effects of pollution as well as the devastation that comes from dramatic changes to the land we live on such as melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, and coastal erosion. Approval of additional oil and gas projects in the Arctic will add more threats to our way of life.

Our communities deserve a say. in nuixot, We urged the Ministry of the Interior (DOI) to schedule the public input portion of the Project’s Supplemental Environmental Review process on our hunting season and subsistence activities, knowing that many of those opposed or concerned about the project will be away in hunting camp.

There is no time to read documents, make comments, or organize in opposition when our people are in the hunting camp. Not foraging for our own subsistence is not an option – the food our communities harvest now will help us get through the winter.

The Home Secretary – herself an Indigenous – knows these things. And for a moment, it seemed her department did, too. Unfortunately, after feigning concern and vowing to extend the suspension period through September, the department went back on its word and pressed on the shortest suspension period permitted by law during the worst possible time for the district. All this happened after Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement Project I was Released on a summer Friday nightWhich is what the government does when it wants to hide bad news.

It’s time for the Biden administration to wake up and see Project Willow for what it is: a choice between moving to a greener future while protecting all communities or extending our unsurvivable addiction to fossil fuels while we commit another grave injustice to Indigenous communities. If management chooses the wrong fork, our families will struggle to put food on the table. We will have to leave our history and culture behind. Indigenous people will continue to suffer and die from respiratory diseases at a disproportionate rate.

From food security and chronic diseases to physical and mental health to culture and traditions, there is a lot at stake for Nuexot and our neighbours. It is time for us – and indigenous peoples everywhere – to have a say in our energy policy.

Rosemary Ahtungaruak is the Mayor of Nueksut, Alaska.

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