The question for whether or not we should drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most contentious public lands debates in the United States. Even though most Americans would have a hard time finding it on a map, just about everyone seems to have very intense feelings about oil exploration in the refuge.
Now, after 40 years of fighting, that debate is coming to a head. Congress voted in December 2017 to allow drilling there — on a 1.5 million-acre chunk of land along the northern coast of Alaska, in the largest wildlife refuge in the United States. As we release this, the Trump Administration says they’ll start auctioning off development rights to oil companies as soon as this winter. But opponents to drilling are trying to stop that from happening, and at this point, no one really knows how things will play out.
In this episode, we take you to the refuge, track down the origin story of the conflict, and follow that conflict through the decades.
Each season, Threshold explores one story from the natural world, and what it says about us. This miniseries is the capstone project for our two-and-a-half years of reporting in and on the Arctic.
Learn more about Threshold on our website.