The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a protected region in Alaska’s far north, is one of the world’s last few unspoiled environments – a remarkable wilderness that is home to endangered polar bears, grey wolves and wild caribou.
But now the Trump administration, brushing aside objections from Democrats in Congress, is pressing ahead with plans to let oil and gas companies drill in the refuge.
With a mandatory public comment period currently drawing to a close (a process that does not seem to have been put on hold to take account of the coronavirus lockdown in the United States), the Bureau of Land Management may soon be able to start selling leases on a 1.6m-acre coastal strip, a vast area that has been protected against exploitation for decades.
Inevitably, the proposals have attracted fierce opposition from conservationists, but they are also dividing the area’s remote Indigenous communities – between those who want jobs and income from the energy industry and those who want to preserve a unique habitat and way of life.
Reporter Zoe Daniel went to investigate.
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