Arctic & Antarctica
Porcupine caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2010. The Yukon government is calling for a redo of the draft environmental impact statement concerning the possibility ofopening up part of the ANWR to industrial development. (Malkolm Boothroyd/Yukon News file)

Yukon government gets tough in response to U.S. draft development plan for ANWR

‘The main take home point is we’re asking for a supplemental EIS’

The Yukon government is calling for a redo of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) concerning the possibility of opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to industrial development.

The through-line of its response, which was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on March 13, the final day for comments to be entered, is that the draft plan is essentially insufficient, requiring more rigorous analysis of potential effects to the environment, wildlife and Indigenous cultures.

“The main take-home point is we’re asking for a supplemental EIS,” said Mike Suitor, a northern Yukon biologist with the environment department, adding that new information that’s pertinent is not being used — a Canadian report that was released in February, for instance, that contests science included in the U.S. plan.

This report is imprinted in the Yukon government’s response when it says there’s an absence of quantitative analysis to evaluate impacts “on all species or ensure they will not result in significant adverse impacts to environmental or socio-economic values.”

“Basically what we’re saying is that they need to go back and relook at the alternatives they developed,” Suitor said. “The whole basis on which they built arguments in the environmental impact statement is based on qualitative analyses that is, in some cases, incorrect or flawed in the logic they followed.”

Pauline Frost, Yukon’s minister of environment, said that the objective of the Yukon government’s response is to gauge impacts on caribou, polar bears and Gwich’in culture.

“We’re looking at the submission as creating the detailed scientific analysis that is required,” she said.

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