The Gwich’in Steering Committee is hiring!

August 25, 2021

Passionate about sustaining the Gwich’in way of life and protecting the Arctic Wildlife National Refuge? Come join our dedicated team today!

The Gwich’in Steering Committee is hiring a full-time executive assistant to support the executive director and team in Fairbanks, Alaska. The executive assistant will help support the committee’s mission through regular communication with committee partners as well as administrative support including filing records, answering phones, and overseeing travel arrangements for board and staff. The executive assistant will play a vital role on a small, tight-knit team and will report directly to the executive director.

The ideal candidate will:

  • Have proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Pay strong attention to detail
  • Proactively problem solve
  • (Most importantly) Have the ability to foster and work within an environment of humility, kindness, and respect.

Apply today and spread the word with friends and family to help us fulfill our mission to ensure the long‐term health and viability of the Porcupine Caribou Herd that sustains the Gwich’in way of life.

GSC Scorecard Rates Insurance Companies on Arctic Refuge Policies

August 10, 2021

International insurers win gold and silver medals while American companies fall short

For Immediate Release

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA (August 10, 2021) – Today the Gwich’in Steering Committee sent to domestic and international insurance companies a scorecard that rates them on whether they have enacted policies against insuring oil and gas development projects on the sacred Coastal Plain of the Refuge. The 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain is the calving ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd on which Gwich’in and other Indigenous communities depend to sustain their families and culture. After decades of bipartisan protection for the Arctic Refuge, and without regard for the human rights of Indigenous people or national public opinion, the Trump administration opened the area to oil and gas leasing in 2017.

“My people have depended on the caribou for thousands of years, and the Trump administration’s greedy and heartless effort to allow drilling disrespects our humanity and our sovereignty. We have a duty to our grandchildren and Indigenous people around the world to stand up for our sacred sites,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “We are deeply grateful to the companies that are standing with us, but those who have failed to tell the world they support the rights of Indigenous people need to get on board.”

“Our lives and our sovereignty are not negotiable. We will not allow the oil industry to destroy Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, the Sacred Place Where Life Begins,” Demientieff added. “Caribou are the foundation of our songs, stories and dances, and the basis of our identity and spirituality, culture and way of life. Our identity is non-negotiable and our culture is not for sale.”

The scorecard awards gold medals to six international insurers for issuing clear public statements that they will not insure development projects in the Arctic Refuge, while four earned silver for issuing policies or statements barring such coverage in the Arctic but without specifically citing the Arctic Refuge. Bronze winners have met with the Gwich’in Steering Committee but have not issued policies in writing, and multiple companies either failed to earn a medal or they were listed as disqualified for not even responding to requests to meet with Gwich’in leaders.

The majority of the public opposes drilling in the Arctic Refuge, and the six largest banks in the United States and the five largest banks in Canada have stated publicly that they will not finance projects there.

President Biden has suspended leases that were issued on the final day of the Trump administration following a January lease sale, and the U.S. Department of the Interior announced last week that it will review the leasing program to address its deep legal deficiencies and potential environmental impacts. Unless Congress takes action to restore protections for sacred lands in the Coastal Plain, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act requires another lease sale in 2024.

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Gwich’in Steering Committee Youth Council Speaks at the 14th Session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

July 16, 2021

On Monday, July 12, the Gwich’in Steering Committee Youth Council was invited to give a live statement at the North America and Africa regional meeting of the 14th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). EMRIP is prioritizing Indigenous voices during the comment period of a draft report on the rights of the Indigenous Child, alongside other critical work. Full text from the speech follows.

Gwich’in Steering Committee Youth Council 

Statement to United Nations Virtual Regional Meeting
of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

July 12, 2021

Drin Gwinzii! Shroozhii Lexine Demientieff oozhii, Gwichyaa Zhee Gwatsan Ilthlee

As Gwich’in youth, we believe that the power of our ancestors runs strong in our blood. We support our traditional skills, knowledge and values. Our growing minds need positivity and support for our growth. We live between two forever-changing worlds. The Gwich’in Nation, of Alaska and Canada, have been defending the calving grounds of the Arctic Refuge which is deeply connected to our way of life.

Our elders formed the Gwich’in Steering Committee in the 1980s to protect our lands and preserve our way of life. In 2017, Arctic Refuge was opened to oil and gas development. In January 2021, our sacred land was sold without our free, prior, and informed consent. Although the Biden Administration has halted development in the Arctic, we are continuing to seek permanent protections for “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins).

The Gwich’in believe the youth is one of the most powerful resources and we are dedicated to sharing our story. We want to teach the world that drilling in the Coastal Plain puts the future of the Porcupine Caribou Herd at risk and any impact to this land will impact the herd, which impacts the Gwich’in. We are interconnected to our land, our water and our animals.

We are dependent on this land for our survival. We have cared for this land because it is part of us. To us, the caribou are who we are. They are the foundation of our songs, stories and dances. We have lived alongside the caribou since time immemorial. Our identity as Gwich’in is not negotiable.

Beyond the serious threats to the caribou, development on our land threatens many other rights. Development threatens our right to culture; our right to health; our rights to clean environment, water, and air; our right to be free from violence. We have not agreed to this exploration, sale, or development and we call on the international community to support us as we ask for our rights to be respected. We want to ensure that this land for the generations to come.

Over the last year, we have worked to convince many others that the calving grounds deserve protection. The lease sale brought in less than one percent of projected revenue. All major U.S. banks have refused to fund drilling in the arctic. And insurers are coming out and saying they won’t insure this type of work. But the U.S. Government has not yet restored permanent protections. Until that is done, we cannot rest.

Gwich’in will stand together and safeguard our vision of the future and ensure its delivery into the world through us, the Gwich’in youth, with guidance from our Elders and with Creator that this will come to pass.

Mahsi Choo thank you very much.

Lexine Demientieff
Gwich’in Steering Committee Youth Council

The Gwich’in Steering Committee is looking for an Executive Assistant and an Outreach Coordinator

April 19, 2021

Executive Assistant Job Announcement

Download Job Announcement

The Gwich’in Steering Committee seeks a full-time executive assistant to support our team in Fairbanks, Alaska. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

The ideal candidate has excellent office and computer skills and a proven ability to work well with coworkers and outside partners.

Job Responsibilities

The executive assistant reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for general office duties, including: (1) answering phones; (2) filing and retrieving records, documents, and reports; (3) making travel arrangements for staff and board; and (4) processing correspondence. This person will also serve as a point of communication with our partners to restore protections to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while also tracking latest developments towards that broader goal. The executive assistant must also be able to lift up to 30 lbs. and deliver and pick up documents in Fairbanks.

Qualifications

We seek candidates who have knowledge of general office practices and procedures. Strong candidates will have:

  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite—Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint.
  • Ability to meet deadlines in a fast-paced, quickly changing environment.
  • Proactive approach to problem-solving.
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills.
  • Attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Ability to make appropriate decisions quickly and under pressure.
  • Quick and enthusiastic learner.
  • Humility, good humor, and ability to foster and work within an environment of kindness and respect.

Hourly wage of $17 – $20 per hour, depending on experience. The Gwich’in Steering Committee is an equal opportunity employer.

How to Apply

Email cover letter, resume, and references to Ashley Boyd at aboyd@trustees.org. Include the subject line: GSC EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT.


 

Outreach Coordinator Job Announcement

Download Job Announcement

The Gwich’in Steering Committee seeks a full-time outreach coordinator to support our team in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The ideal candidate is Gwich’in and has excellent communication and diplomacy skills and a proven ability to work well with coworkers and outside partners.

Job Responsibilities

The outreach coordinator reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for:

  • Travel to Gwich’in Nation villages and build relationships with local partners.
  • Provide training to Gwich’in People to be ambassadors to others about the Gwich’in way of life.
  • Undertake social media advocacy for Gwich’in Steering Committee platforms and website.
  • Outreach to Indigenous partners and potential partners in the Lower 48.
  • Travel to Lower 48 Indigenous partners to build and strengthen reciprocal relationships with and educate them about Gwich’in issues.
  • Travel to Washington, D.C. with the Executive Director to meet with congressional allies about legislation and Gwich’in issues.

Qualifications

We seek candidates who have excellent outreach, education, and relationship-building skills. Strong candidates will have:

    • In-depth understanding of the Gwich’in Steering Committee fight to protect their way of life and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and commitment to this work.
    • Courtesy and diplomacy in all communications.
    • Proven ability in public speaking and educating partners.
    • Proactive approach to problem-solving.
    • Excellent verbal and written communications skills.

Hourly wage of $20-24 per hour depending on experience. The Gwich’in Steering Committee is an equal opportunity employer.

How to Apply

Email cover letter, resume, and references to Ashley Boyd at aboyd@trustees.org. Include the subject line: GSC OUTREACH COORDINATOR. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Gwich’in Steering Committee Statement on Directional Drilling

February 23, 2021

The Gwich’in Steering Committee has learned that one of the new holders of a lease in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may extract oil from the Coastal Plain by drilling directionally into the land from state land. As the Coastal Plain is the sacred land of the Gwich’in and the calving ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the Gwich’in Steering Committee opposes all forms of development and calls on Regenerate Alaska and its parent company, 88 Energy, to halt its plans.

Any form of drilling in the Coastal Plain is dangerous, risky, and unpopular. The Gwich’in are united against any development of the Coastal Plain because the land is sacred and vitally important to the Porcupine Caribou, which sustains our communities. The lease program has been paused by the Biden administration because of its potentially disastrous environmental impacts, and is currently being challenged in the courts by four different lawsuits. Drilling in the Coastal Plain also has little public support, is being investigated by the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and all major U.S. and Canadian banks have pledged not to fund any development in the Refuge. 

Directional drilling from state land does not solve these issues or lessen the environmental impact of oil extraction on the region. Directional drilling presents many of the same problems as conventional drilling because it requires similar infrastructure: drill rigs, well pads, runways, roads, pipelines, and other supportive infrastructure. Because it has a limited range, directional drilling also relies on extensive seismic testing, which is extremely disruptive to the environment and harmful to plants and animals. There are also the same risks of spills or accidents that can devastate the local environment. Regenerate Alaska cannot avoid negative impacts on the Coastal Plain simply by beginning the destruction on state land.

As the Gwich’in Steering Committee stated in a letter to David Wall and Regenerate Alaska last month, going forward with any development is not only an unwise financial decision but shows blatant disrespect for the Gwich’in and other Alaska Native communities. The Gwich’in Steering Committee calls on Regenerate Alaska to halt all plans to develop the Coastal Plain, including those related to directional drilling, and to relinquish its leases. Doing so would show respect for the rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska and recognition of the serious material, reputational and human rights risks arising from development of the Coastal Plain.

Corporate Commitment to Protect the Arctic Refuge

February 17, 2021
Updated 8/10/21

The Gwich’in Steering Committee has engaged directly with global banks, energy companies and insurers to ask for policy to protect the Arctic Refuge and impacted Indigenous communities from the harms of fossil fuel development on the Coastal Plain.

We have compiled the lists below of major companies which have adopted policy or are in the process of creating policy to protect the Arctic Refuge, as well as companies which have no policy or stated commitments to the Refuge. Our engagement is ongoing. 

INSURANCE INDUSTRY COMMITMENT TO PROTECT THE ARCTIC REFUGE
See the comprehensive report we released on August 8, 2021.

  • AXA (France) – “French insurer Axa SA has prohibited insurance of oil and gas exploration in the Arctic regions since 2018, and that includes the wildlife refuge in Alaska. A two-year grace period for existing contracts to expire has now passed.” – 11/19/20
  • AXIS (Bermuda) – “Axis won’t underwrite new insurance or offer facultative reinsurance contracts, nor provide investment support for projects involved in exploration, production or transportation of oil and gas in the refuge.” – 1/15/21
  • Swiss Re (Switzerland) – “We can therefore confirm that Swiss Re will abstain from providing re/insurance or investment support for projects related to exploration, production, or transportation of oil and gas in the Arctic Refuge protected area.” – 12/10/20
  • Generali (Italy) – “ our policy includes the commitment to protect [the] Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with a global exclusion of all oil & gas exploration and extraction activities” – 7/27/21
  • Munich Re (Germany) – “we neither have nor plan to have any business activities (insurance- and investment-wise) both in and around the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (also incl. horizontal drilling).” – 7/28/21
  • Hannover Re (Germany) – “we rule out, among other ESG issues, any new oil and gas drilling projects in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as well as any other drilling projects related to oil and gas exploitation in artic [sic] regions.” – 7/28/21

INSURANCE COMPANIES WITH NO COMMITMENT TO PROTECT THE ARCTIC REFUGE

  • AIG (United States)
  • Allianz (Germany)
  • Aviva (United Kingdom)
  • Chubb (United States)
  • CNA (United States)
  • Liberty Mutual (United States)
  • Lloyd’s (United Kingdom)
  • Markel (United States)
  • QBE (Australia)
  • RLI (United States)
  • SCOR (France)
  • Sompo (Japan)
  • Talanx (Germany)
  • The Hartford (United States)
  • Tokio Marine (Japan)
  • Travelers (United States)
  • WR Berkley (United States)
  • Zurich (Switzerland)

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS WITH POLICY TO PROTECT THE ARCTIC REFUGE

  • ABN AMRO (Netherlands) – “ABN AMRO prohibits direct finance for Arctic oil and gas exploration, production, and supporting services.” Via BankTrack.
  • Bank of America (United States) – “Bank of America Corp. said that it won’t provide project financing for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic after facing opposition from environmentalists.” Via Bloomberg News.
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO Financial Group) (Canada) – “BMO intends to exclude direct finance for exploration and development projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It does not mention infrastructure, the policy is restricted to the ANWR and the bank only expressed its “intention” to exclude project finance.” Via BankTrack.
  • Barclays (United Kingdom) – “Barclays will not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic Circle, including but not limited to the ANWR. Its policy does not mention infrastructure. Barclays does not provide any financing to companies primarily engaged in oil and gas exploration and production operations or plans in the Arctic Circle, including but not limited to the ANWR.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • BBVA (Spain) “BBVA prohibits financing for Arctic oil and gas exploration and production projects. The policy does not prohibit infrastructure like pipelines and terminals. Therefore, the policy does not qualify for a full exclusion.” Via BankTrack.
  • BNP Paribas (France) – “BNP Paribas excludes from its financing and investments activities any financing to oil and gas projects located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” In addition, “BNP Paribas only prohibits financing for offshore Arctic oil and gas exploration and production projects, as well as pipelines and LNG terminals related to offshore Arctic oil and gas only.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • CaixaBank (Spain) – “CaixaBank prohibits any project-related financing ‘involving oil and gas exploration or production in the Arctic region.’ This policy does not cover infrastructure in the region.” Via BankTrack.
  • CIBC (Canada) – “CIBC will not directly finance companies that are involved in exploration or development related to oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • Citigroup (United States) – “Citigroup does not provide project-related financing for oil and gas exploration and production in the Arctic Circle. Its policy does not mention infrastructure.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • Commerzbank (Germany) – “Commerzbank prohibits project financing related to the extraction of oil and gas in the Arctic. The policy does not mention infrastructure.” Via BankTrack.
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Australia) – “Commonwealth Bank prohibits project finance for oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic. There is no prohibition on pipelines, LNG terminals in the Arctic, or other infrastructure.” Via BankTrack.
  • Crédit Agricole (France) – “Crédit Agricole prohibits oil projects in the Arctic, but the exclusion does not cover gas. Crédit Agricole prohibits financing to companies whose main activity is linked to oil projects in the Arctic or infrastructure projects mainly dedicated to the transportation of oil produced in the Arctic.” Via BankTrack.
  • Credit Suisse Group (Switzerland) – “Credit Suisse will not finance offshore or onshore oil or gas projects in the Arctic region. This includes upstream exploration, development and production, as well as midstream and downstream operations.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany) – “Deutsche Bank will not finance new oil and gas projects in the Arctic region (Arctic region being defined based on a 10°C July Isotherm boundary, meaning the area does not experience temperatures above 10° C).” Via BankTrack.
  • Goldman Sachs (United States) – “Goldman Sachs prohibits financing for new Arctic oil projects onshore and offshore, including exploration. Financing for gas projects, as well as for infrastructure related to Arctic oil and gas, are not covered by this policy.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • JPMorgan Chase (United States) – “JPMorgan Chase prohibits financing for ‘upstream, midstream or downstream greenfield oil and gas development in the Arctic.’” Via BankTrack.
  • Morgan Stanley (United States) – “Morgan Stanley does not directly finance new oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Its policy does not mention infrastructure.” Via BankTrack.
  • National Australia Bank (Australia) – “NAB prohibits financing for ‘oil and gas projects within or impacting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.’ This is considered a weak exclusion policy.” Via BankTrack.
  • Natixis (France) – BankTrack description: Natixis prohibits direct finance for Arctic oil exploration and production. This does not cover infrastructure.” Via BankTrack.
  • NatWest Group (formerly RBS) (United Kingdom) “RBS’s commitment excludes lending to oil exploration and production projects in the Arctic or Antarctic, but does not cover underwriting such projects, nor does it cover gas in the region.” Via BankTrack.
  • Royal Bank of Canada (Canada) – “RBC will not provide direct financing for any project or transaction that involves exploration or development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). RBC does not mention infrastructure in this policy, and does not rule out financing projects in the rest of the Arctic region.” Via BankTrack
  • Santander (Spain) – “Santander’s prohibition on direct financing for the ‘development, construction or expansion of oil and gas drilling projects north of the Arctic Circle’ includes associated infrastructure.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • Scotiabank (Canada) – Scotiabank prohibits “direct financing or project-specific financial and advisory services for activities that are directly related to the exploration, development or production of oil and gas within the Arctic Circle, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.
  • Société Générale (France) – “Société Générale prohibits financing for all Arctic oil exploration and production projects, as well as for ‘infrastructures exclusively dedicated to the transport or storage of […] Arctic oil.’ This policy does not cover Arctic gas. Société Générale prohibits financing for companies that get a majority of their revenue from Arctic oil or have a majority of their reserves in the Arctic region.” Via BankTrack.
  • Standard Chartered (United Kingdom) – “Standard Chartered’s prohibition on direct financing for “new or existing Arctic exploration and/or production activities” also covers Arctic-related infrastructure.” Via BankTrack.
  • TD bank Financial Group (Canada) – “TD will not provide new project-specific financial service for exploration, development, or production of oil and gas within the Arctic Circle. It does not mention infrastructure.” Via BankTrack.
  • UniCredit Group (Italy) – “UniCredit prohibits financing for Arctic oil extraction projects, onshore and offshore, and Arctic offshore gas extraction projects only, as well as “pipelines and other infrastructure SOLELY related” to onshore and offshore Arctic oil or offshore Arctic gas. UniCredit requires new and existing clients to get ≤25% of their revenue from onshore and offshore Arctic oil and/or offshore Arctic gas. For existing clients above that threshold, they must have a plan to get below that threshold, to be evaluated annually.” Via BankTrack.
  • Wells Fargo (United States) “Wells Fargo prohibits direct financing of ‘oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,’ without further specificity on what that covers.” Via BankTrack.
  • Westpac Banking Corporation (Australia) – “Westpac does not provide project finance for oil and gas exploration in high risk frontier basins such as Arctic and Antarctic refuges. Only exploration mentioned in its policy.” Via BankTrack; see full policy.

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS WITH NO POLICY TO PROTECT THE ARCTIC REFUGE

  • ANZ Bank (Australia)
  • HSBC (United Kingdom)*
  • ING (Netherlands)*
  • Intesa Sanpaolo (Italy)
  • Mizuho (Japan)
  • MUFG (Japan)
  • Nordea Bank (Finland)
  • Société Générale (France)*
  • SMBC (Japan)
  • UBS (Switzerland)*
*These banks have Arctic policies that currently do not cover the Arctic Refuge and should be strengthened.

First North American insurer confirms it will not support destruction of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

January 15, 2021

AXIS Capital’s announcement follows recent flawed, rushed and likely illegal Arctic Refuge lease sale

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA – AXIS Capital—one of the world’s leading insurers with $25.6 billion in assets and offices across North America—confirmed in a letter to the Gwich’in Steering Committee that it will not underwrite new insurance or facultative reinsurance contracts, or provide investment support, for projects covering the exploration, production or transportation of oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is the third international insurance firm, after AXA and Swiss Re, to make such a commitment and the first North American firm to affirm they will not support destructive development of the Arctic Refuge.

“We believe climate-related risks are among the most serious issues facing the world today. We also recognize the importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the [Gwich’in] and your families, as well as our planet,” wrote Conrad Brooks, general counsel and corporate secretary for AXIS Capital.

The news comes in the wake of a flawed, rushed and unlawful lease sale in the Arctic Refuge, which saw such little interest from oil and gas corporations that the State of Alaska jumped in at the last minute and spent over $12 million in taxpayer money to purchase leases at rock bottom prices. Of the 11 tracts leased, nine were won by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state corporation with a history of mismanagement and possible corruption that largely ignored the concerns of Alaska Natives who overwhelmingly spoke out against their plan. The other two leases were purchased by Knik Arm Services, LLC, a year-old company that, like AIDEA, has no history of development, and Regenerate Alaska, Inc., a subsidiary of Australia-based 88 Energy.

AXIS Capital’s announcement is yet another sign that insurers and investors still consider oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge too great a financial and reputational risk, which may make it difficult for any leaseholders to find development partners. AXIS Capital’s decision is also a result of a continued insurer outreach campaign led by the Gwich’in Steering Committee and its Indigenous, social justice and environmental partners.

The Gwich’in have a cultural and spiritual connection to the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and the herd relies on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge as its birthing and calving grounds. That’s why the Gwich’in call the coastal plain where drilling is proposed ‘Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit’ or ‘the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.’

Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, said, “Destruction of the Arctic Refuge is a direct attack on the rights of the Gwich’in Nation. The Creator blessed us with this land so we could care for it and protect it as we have done for thousands of years. The recent lease sale ignored all our concerns and dismissed the climate crisis, but the commitment from AXIS today show’s that other companies agree with us and respect us. We need more companies to stand with us, respect our human rights and our way of life. We cannot let the destruction of the Arctic Refuge happen – not today, not ever.”

Organizations working to prevent drilling in the Arctic Refuge have warned corporations that pursuing oil and gas in the refuge is fraught with uncertainty and exposes them to unnecessary reputational, legal, human rights and financial risk. Two-thirds of voters oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge, and four active lawsuits challenge the legality of the sale. The United Nations also has issued two inquiries expressing grave concerns about the impacts of the project on the human rights of the Gwich’in. Additionally, President-elect Biden and his nominee for the Department of Interior, Deb Haaland, have been adamant supporters of the Arctic Refuge and could take immediate action to halt all oil and gas activities when they enter office.

Despite public opposition to drilling in the Arctic Refuge, the Trump administration completely ignored numerous concerns about the impact of oil development and did not adequately consult with Alaska Native Tribes. The Administration opened more of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas leasing with a controversial provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The three International insurance firms join more than two dozen global banks, including the six largest U.S. banks and five largest Canadian banks, that have taken positions against investing in oil and gas development in the region. The Gwich’in Steering Committee and its allies will continue to pressure insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual and AIG who have yet to comment, to ensure the sacred calving grounds are protected.

Contact
Tim Woody, (907) 223-2443, tim_woody@tws.org

Lloyd’s new policy on Arctic energy exploration falls short

January 6, 2021

letterhead

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA (December 18, 2020) – Lloyd’s of London recently released its Environmental, Social and Governance Report, which asks Lloyd’s member companies to no longer provide new insurance cover for coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, tar sands and new Arctic energy exploration. The insurer committed to phase out its fossil fuel coverage by Jan. 2022, lacked specifics on whether the policy would apply to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and made no mention of fossil fuel production or transportation. Indigenous Peoples and allies noted that, while Lloyd’s announcement was a positive development, it is not enough and further highlighted the ever-growing gap between U.S. insurance companies and their global peers on climate action.

The announcement from Lloyd’s is a step in the right direction,” said Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director for the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “However, it is not enough. As Indigenous Peoples, we are living in ground zero of climate change while fighting to protect our sacred lands and our ways of life. People need to understand that the land, the water and the animals are what makes us who we are. We honor what the Creator blessed us with and will stand united to protect it. We don’t only feel attacked by climate change, but we feel attacked by our very own government as well. A government that is not honoring their own founding fathers’ laws and policies. Our human rights are being violated not only by our government but also by corporations and people that are not educated on Indigenous issues.” If Lloyd’s met with the Gwich’in Steering Committee and made a public commitment, it would join insurers AXA and Swiss Re and more than two dozen global banks in committing to not support drilling in the Arctic Refuge. This includes the United States’ six largest banks—Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup—and Canada’s five biggest banks.

“We urge Lloyd’s to join AXA and Swiss Re to exclude themselves from any Arctic Refuge energy development or exploration immediately and show the world that they respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples whose lives will forever change if drilling is to occur,” Demientieff added. 

Organizations working to prevent drilling in the refuge have warned corporations that pursuing oil and gas in the Arctic Refuge is fraught with risk and exposes them to unnecessary reputational, legal and financial risk. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is an unpopular proposition in the United States. Two-thirds of votersoppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge, which is consistent with the long-held, popular, and bi-partisan support for permanent protection of the Arctic Refuge. More than 300 businesses also recently called on oil and gas corporations to not drill in the refuge. In addition, there are four active lawsuits questioning the legality of the sale, and the United Nations has issued two inquiries expressing grave concerns about the impacts of the project on the human rights of the Gwich’in.

Despite public opposition to drilling in the Arctic Refuge, the Trump administration ignored numerous concerns about the impact of oil development and did not adequately consult with Alaska Native Tribes. The Administration opened more than 1.5 million-acre of the coastal plain to oil and gas leasing with a controversial provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and is now rushing forward with a plan to hold a lease sale on Jan. 6, just weeks after the 60th anniversary of the Arctic Refuge’s founding. 

The Gwich’in Steering Committee and its allies have requested a meeting with Lloyd’s and noted that they will continue to pressure insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual, and oil companies to ensure the sacred calving grounds are protected.

Insurer Swiss Re takes stand against Arctic Refuge drilling

December 17, 2020

letterhead

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA (December 11, 2020) – The Swiss Re Group—one of the world’s leading insurers—has confirmed in a letter to the Gwich’in Steering Committee that it will not provide coverage or investment support for projects related to exploration, drilling or production of oil or gas in the Arctic, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is the second such international insurance firm, after AXA, to make such a commitment.

“We do not associate ourselves with projects that violate the right of Indigenous peoples, such as the right of free, prior and informed consent,” Swiss Re stated in the letter.

The insurer further noted that it does not support businesses or projects that do harm to ecologically sensitive areas in compliance with its Sustainable Business Risk Framework. This includes areas protected under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature like the Arctic Refuge, which is a category IV National Park.

The Gwich’in have a cultural and spiritual connection to the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and the herd relies on the coastal plain as its birthing and calving grounds. That’s why the Gwich’in call the coastal plain ‘Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit’ or ‘the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.’

Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, said, “This land is sacred; it’s an area where life begins for many different animals. Protecting our land, water and animals is about our basic human rights. We have deep gratitude for those who stand with us during these uncertain times. We need these companies to stand with us, respect our human rights and our way of life. We are not asking for anything but to live and thrive off the land our Creator blessed us with.”

Organizations working to prevent drilling in the refuge have warned corporations that pursuing oil and gas in the Arctic Refuge is fraught with risk and exposes them to unnecessary reputational, legal and financial risk. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is an unpopular proposition in the United States. Two-thirds of voters oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge which is consistent with the long-held, popular, and bi-partisan support for permanent protection of the Arctic Refuge. In addition, there are four active lawsuits questioning the legality of the sale and the United Nations has issued two inquiries expressing grave concerns about the impacts of the project on the human rights of the Gwich’in.

“This rushed plan to auction off our sacred lands for oil drilling disrespects our human rights, ignores public opinion and denies the crisis of climate change. Our children’s future is not up for negotiation,” added Demientieff.

Despite public opposition to drilling in the Arctic Refuge, the Trump administration completely ignored numerous concerns about the impact of oil development and did not adequately consult with Alaska Native Tribes. The Administration opened more than 1.5 million-acre of the coastal plain to oil and gas leasing with a controversial provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and is now rushing forward with a plan to hold a lease sale on Jan. 6, just weeks after the 60th anniversary of the Arctic Refuge’s founding.

Swiss Re now joins AXA and more than two dozen global banks, including the six largest U.S. banks, that have taken positions against investing in oil and gas development in the region. The Gwich’in Steering Committee and its allies will continue to pressure insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual, and oil companies to ensure the sacred calving grounds are protected.

Prayer Vigil for the Porcupine Caribou Herd Friday December 18th

December 16, 2020

4pm Ak time, 6pm Mt, 8pm Est. 

Special guest representing the American Indian Movement & Society of Native Nations, who have been partnering with the Gwich’in Steering Committee on many national and local events. Navajo actor of The Revenant(2015), Arthur RedCloud.

American Indian Movement, Gwich’in Steering Committee, and Society of Native Nations are hosting a prayer vigil for the pregnant Porcupine Caribou who will soon begin their journey to the calving grounds in the Arctic Refuge where they will have up to 40,000 claves in up to a two week period. 

Starting from Gold Heart Plaza, we will march to 60 Hall St. at the Gwich’in Steering Committee offices.

We are asking you to join us in lighting a candle in prayer no matter where you are. Tag our page and write #standwiththegwichin.

Tag facebook; Instagram and Twitter :Gwich’in Steering Committee, Society of Native Nations and American Indian Movement Of Central Texas.