I’m finally able to post here again – it’s been a busy week. I wanted to show a few more photos from ANWR, Alaska, and I though this one makes a strong case against the arguments to open the coastal plain to drilling. Another of the primary arguments put forward by those who support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the technology available to make drilling a low impact development. However, what is very evident is that those involved in extractive resource development really make little or no effort to clean up after themselves. Whilst this is clear when we look at massive oil spills, such as the Exxon-Valdez debacle, it’s also prefectly clear on a smaller scale in places like ANWR. The debris and trash left behind by exploratory drilling is unbelievable. The refuge is not even yet open to drilling, and yet there is an incredible amount of refuse left behind: oil barrels, chains, machinery, sheds, and other wooden structures, even this hardhat here. If I left behind any of this kind of trash on one of my backpacking trips, I’d be in all kinds of trouble with the land management bureau (for any federally managed lands) – yet it seems perfectly OK for “oil development” companies to do exactly this. Those with the most resources available to clean up after themselves are apparently exempt from having to do so. Furthermore, they clearly have no interest in cleaning up after themselves. I don’t leave trash behind in the backcountry because doing so doesn’t sit well with me – regardless of what rules and regulations are in place, I won’t leave trash behind – when possible, I’ll carry out what trash I do find (last year I picked up and carried out a tripod that some other photographer had left behind, for example). When I see this kind of trash left behind after exploratory drilling, I find it hard to swallow the line that these same folks are going to engage “low impact” technologies in order to “protect” the environment. I’d propose that if these people are serious about how much they care about the environment, and they want others to acknowledge that, they can put their money and other resources where the mouths are. Let them clean up the trash they’ve already left behind, remove all the debris and refuse they’ve left scattered across the coastal plain, and then make their claims about how sensitive they are to the fragility of the arctic tundra. Until then, it’s simply talk.
More ANWR photos