Polar bears may have to share their home with oil drillers. The Trump administration on Monday approved oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That wilderness has been off-limits to drilling for decades.
The reserve is home to polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, caribou, wolves, eagles, beavers and migratory birds.
A Republican bill passed three years ago, allowed the refuge to be opened to oil and gas companies, but Native American groups, environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers have fought development.
Alaska’s governor and congressional delegation welcomed the move saying it would create jobs and boost economic growth. But environmentalists slammed the decision, saying it would harm wildlife and the ecosystem.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said oil leases could be auctioned by the end of the year and that oil production could begin in about eight years.