In theory, as DOI expands oil and gas development on public lands, including near sensitive cultural and archaeological sites, environmental justice reviews should be more frequent. In Alaska, for example, DOI is moving ahead with an ambitious schedule to complete an environmental impact statement for leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, considered sacred land by some Native American tribes. A review that would normally take years is being rushed to completion in months.

“They’re coming fast, they’re coming hard and they are just cutting corners left and right,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in steering committee, which opposes drilling in the refuge. The porcupine caribou, which use the coastal plain as calving grounds in the summer months, are a major staple in the Gwich’in diet.

“My people and other tribes will live with the aftermath,” Demientieff said, referring to the prospect of oil and gas development in the wildlife refuge. “The sick animals, the damaged lands, the contaminated water.”

 This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.