In DepthConservation Biology

Alaska oil bid alarms scientists

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Science  01 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6524, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6524.13

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Summary

A plan to map underground geology in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in a hunt for oil is alarming some scientists, who warn it could damage fragile tundra and threaten endangered polar bears. The federal government is pressing to permit the work, and auction oil-drilling leases, before President Donald Trump leaves office. The work would involve crisscrossing a section of the refuge's coastal plain with huge earth-shaking trucks that generate acoustic waves much like radar. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2020 issued preliminary reports stating the work posed little risk of harm. But some scientists say the area is still scarred by similar seismic work from the 1980s. Others fear the trucks could kill or disturb bears that overwinter in dens there.

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