President Barack Obama released Friday an executive order that contemplates the creation of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area. This action will make Alaska’s native citizens’ considerations affect the government management of the area.

The order explains how the way the marine areas are protected is more “locally tailored” than ever. The announcement also includes the closing for drilling of over 40,000 miles of Alaska’s protected coasts. Now, the gas and oil leases are prohibited.

Obama orders the creation of a "resilience area" to protect Alaskan waters. Photo credit: US Climate Resilience Toolkit
Obama orders the creation of a “resilience area” to protect Alaskan waters. Photo credit: US Climate Resilience Toolkit

The Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area is about 112,300 square miles long, and according to the executive order, a special task force is needed to coordinate the government policies along with the recommendations from the Alaskan native citizens.

This particular area is one of the largest annual migration destiny for mammals. Bowheads, beluga whales, Pacific walrus, ice seals, and many types of birds are among the species that travel to Alaska every year at different stations. Now, this 40,300 miles area will be safer as any drilling is forbidden.

Obama is fulfilling Senate’s final requests

Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, along with Republican Representative Don Young, presented the White House the demand for closing Alaskan waters to forbid the oil and gas lease. In the letter sent to Obama, the before mentioned Republicans stated that the Governor of Alaska, the tribal leadership, the majority of the legislature representation, and the majority of the Alaskan population rejected a “withdrawal of acreage in these areas.”

Some citizens that live near coastal regions have said that is urgent for the government to realize that global warming is affecting Alaskan waters directly. Also, the expansion of ship traffic and continuous drilling is having severe repercussions regarding the marine areas.

The executive order includes the possibility for locals to comment regarding the government’s management of their lands. It also commands the Coast Guard to listen to recommendations in sensitive subjects like hunting and other activities. This can improve the collaboration between the national administration and the distinct tribes and communities present in the state of Alaska.

The chairman of the Bering Sea Elders Group and a Yupik Elder, Harry Lincoln, recognized Obama’s work regarding Alaska marine areas and thanked him for the executive order.

“It is the Native elders’ vision that the northern Bering Sea and the resources that our people rely on be protected because they are the foundation of our culture and way of life. We have been here since time immemorial and it is our responsibility to pass our rich heritage on to future generations.,” Lincoln said in the thanking note released this Friday.

Source: Chicago Tribune