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Construction planned to prepare Alaska’s Arctic refuge for oil drilling

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The Trump administration said on Thursday it would spend $4 million on construction projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for oil drilling in the nation’s biggest wildlife park.

In an announcement that touted planned improvements to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visitor facilities, the Department of the Interior said it has approved spending on projects for “Oil Exploration Readiness” in the coastal plain of the Arctic refuge.

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The Trump administration is pushing for an oil lease sale in the refuge to be held as early as next year. The tax-overhaul bill passed by the U.S. Congress last December includes a provision mandating two oil lease sales, each offering at least 400,000 acres (161,874.26 hectares), within seven years.

The 19-million-acre (7.7 million-hectare) Arctic refuge, the largest in the U.S. national wildlife refuge system, contains some of the wildest territory in North America. There are no roads, established trails or buildings of any type within the refuge border, and no cell phone service, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This is a true wilderness Refuge,” the Arctic refuge website advises.

Political and business leaders in oil-dependent Alaska have tried for decades to pry open the refuge’s coastal plain, which is believed to hold potential for billions of barrels of oil. But the plain, between the Brooks Range mountains and the Arctic Ocean, is prized for its importance to caribou, polar bears and other wildlife. Oil development there had been banned until Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski led a move to insert a pro-drilling provision into the 2017 tax bill signed by President Donald Trump.

In Alaska, the development plan is largely embraced, but not universally so. Drilling opponents gathered outside of last week’s Anchorage and Fairbanks hearings about the proposed lease sales to protest the plan.

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Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift, in an email, said the $4 million “will be used to support six projects designed to improve and construct existing outbuildings, facilities and research operations.”

That work will include improvements to facilities located outside the refuge, in the Inupiat village of Kaktovik and at Galbraith Lake along the Trans Alaska Pipeline corridor, she said in the email.

The $4 million appropriation for Arctic refuge projects is one of the largest single items in a total of $50 million in planned DOI construction spending.

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“The President is a builder, he loves to build and he loves our public lands, so it is a natural fit that the Trump Administration is dedicating so much attention to rebuilding our aging Fish and Wildlife Service infrastructure,” Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement on Thursday.

A partnership of three companies is seeking to do seismic surveys in the refuge starting this winter. That plan, from SAExploration and two Alaska Native corporations, was panned by the U.S., Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Post reported last month.

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There has been no decision on that application, Swift said on Thursday. “It was a draft application. The Department does not make decisions based upon early drafts,” she said by email.

Reporting by Yereth Rosen; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Diane Craft


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump Tower is ‘under siege’ as Chicago Police make arrests to defend the president’s building

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Protesters marched on Trump Tower in Chicago on Saturday, as Chicago police in riot gear and on horses defend the president's building.

State police were deployed to the scene to back up local police, who are reportedly arresting protesters.

On video showed protesters taking a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

Actor John Cusack was among those documenting the protest.

Here are some of the images from the scene:

https://twitter.com/dmihalopoulos/status/1266849888555409408

https://twitter.com/disclosetv/status/1266850390047408130

https://twitter.com/DirtyComoDiana/status/1266848376102039552

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George Floyd’s brother tears up discussing condolence phone call from Trump: ‘It hurt me’

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The brother of George Floyd described the condolence phone call he received from President Donald Trump during a Saturday interview on MSNBC.

Philonise Floyd was interviewed by the Rev. Al Sharpton on "Politics Nation."

While Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder, the other three officers involved in the killing remain free.

"They all need to be convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty," Floyd said.

"What was the conversation with President Trump like?" Sharpton asked.

"It was so fast," Floyd replied.

"He didn't give me an opportunity to even speak. It was hard, I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept like pushing me off, like 'I don't want to hear what you're talking about.' And I just told him I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight."

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Bill Barr slammed by ex-FBI official for ignoring the right-wing ‘Boogaloo Bois’ infiltrating protests

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Attorney General Bill Barr was slammed by the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday for misleading Americans about the source of violence at the protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

"There's evidence developing, Brian, that the organization we're seeing of the most violent protesters is coming from a couple of disturbing places," both, by the way, there's disparate in terms in being from the right or the left. here's what those who monitor these groups and sites are seeing.

"We're seeing a far-right group, one group for example known as the Boogaloo Bois, who on their private Facebook page and social media outlets are calling for violence, calling for people to show up," Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC's Brian Williams.

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