Inupiat prefer drilling in ANWR

Inupiat prefer drilling in ANWR

Alaska Inupiat are opposed to offshore oil drilling, preferring that developers turn their attention to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Inupiat in the northern coastal community of Barrow are worried offshore development could threaten their traditional hunt for bowhead whales, seals and walrus, says Eugene Brower, president of the Barrow Whaling Captains’ Association.

He’s concerned the oil companies do not know how to deal with spills in the ice-filled waters of the Arctic.

“The ocean provides us our food source and to this date the oil industry has not demonstrated that they have the technology to deal with an oil spill in our ice-infested waters,” says Brower.

Until they have the technology, he says, the companies should stay on the land, developing oil and gas in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge instead of the Beaufort Sea.

However, the Gwich’in of Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories are opposed to drilling in the refuge because it’s the calving grounds of the migrating Porcupine caribou herd, which they rely on for food.

Lloyd Paningona, who is with Barrow’s tribal government, says fighting offshore development may be a losing battle.

“Unfortunately, my opinion is something like this is inevitable, it’s going to happen,” said Paningona. “Now when it does will it be regulated to a point where it’s going to ease a lot of concerns and worries of this community or North Slope-wide?”

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