Montana Public Radio

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Refuge E5: Path Dependence

Jan 7, 2020
Vebjorn Reitan on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Nick Mott / Threshold

When the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge first emerged, most people had never heard of global warming. So over the last four decades, the controversies over oil in the Refuge and climate change evolved on different tracks.

The Refuge E4: Do It In A Good Way

Dec 22, 2019
Sarah James in Arctic Village, Alaska
Amy Martin / Threshold

The Gwich’in have lived and hunted in the Refuge long before it was carved out as federal, protected land. Their territory spans a huge swath of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada, and their health and culture depends on the Porcupine caribou herd - a group of animals 200,000 strong that calve on the area of the coastal plain slated for drilling.

The Refuge E3: Listen To The People

Dec 17, 2019
Polar bear outside Kaktovik, Alaska
Nick Mott/Threshold / Nick Mott/Threshold

We continue our reporting from Kaktovik, Alaska—the only town within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—to find out how the conflict over drilling for oil in the refuge feels to the people who live there. 

The Refuge E2: To Secure the Blessings of Liberty

Nov 20, 2019
Sign in Kaktovik, Alaska - the only town inside the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Nick Mott/Threshold

For 40 years, the fight over drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been waged mostly from afar, in Washington, D.C. But what would oil development mean to the people who live closest to the proposed drilling area?

Threshold's The Refuge E1: Sibling Rivalry

Nov 12, 2019
A polar bear outside Kaktovik, Alaska - the only village within the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Nick Mott / Threshold


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.