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Arctic Refuge Hearing Debrief & Next Steps

The Fairbanks Arctic Refuge hearing was a flashpoint in the fight for climate justice, land protection, and Indigenous rights in Alaska. We wanted you to hear from us how local leaders stood up for public process and environmental justice against the anti-democratic and blatantly pro-fossil fuel industry actions of the Trump administration.

WHAT HAPPENED?

As you probably read in our previous emails, last week, the Trump administration announced a series hearing for their draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Fairbanks was the very first of the hearings, and they gave an unprecedentedly short amount of time (only 5 days) to prepare for public comment. The Fairbanks and Anchorage hearings –– unlike previous hearings and unlike the hearings being held elsewhere in the state –– were structured not to allow public testimony, and instead were conducted in an “open house” format where comments could be submitted exclusively individually and without the possibility for testimony that would be visible to the whole community. No translation for comments in Iñupiaq and Gwich'in were available. The short notice and the format both indicate an administration that is not committed to robust public process, especially when it means hearing the voices of people who oppose this reckless and unjust extraction. Monday, though, Alaska Native leaders with the support of Defend the Sacred AK led other community members in resisting this undemocratic process –– speaking up to demand public testimony on this EIS document with such massive ramifications for our state. They respectfully disrupted the normal course of the presentation and spoke up with commentary on the EIS to open the space for the Fairbanks community to verbally comment. Because of them, we were able to get a semblance of a real public process, but it was not enough. In the face of immoral government actions, it's on all of us to step up and behave as we know real justice demands. It was inspiring to see strong Indigenous voices & movement allies practice this in our community, and we hope that all of you who are part of the FCAC feel the same way.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Wednesday the 13th, 6pm @ Native Movement (1327 Hayes Ave, upstairs from Nomadic Stars) –– the FCAC Keep It In The Ground Working Group will offer a debrief of this public meeting, a chance for people to voice their thoughts and concerns, and lay out some next steps that FCAC members can be taking to support the campaign to protect the Arctic Refuge as well as oppose other extractive projects. If you're feeling inspired, fired up, angry, stressed out, uncertain, or anything other feeling, this is your chance to join in and help us move forward.  If you want to watch to catch up what happened, the Hrrrl Scouts live streamed much of the event (as did many others) and had probably the most complete video. Skip to 13:00 to see Defend the Sacred's intervention. Look forward to seeing you!

Earlier Event: February 11
Regenerative Economy WG meeting
Later Event: February 19
Interfaith Working Group