It wasn't even explored until the 1950s, that is how remote much of it is. There are no roads into it. It's been a political football since the 1970s. A Senate bill forced President Trump to approve two leases while President Biden issued an executive order halting development - and then a few months later was criticizing oil companies for not producing enough oil during the Russian-Ukraine War.
No matter what happens - and like with nuclear energy eventually career bureaucrats will make it dead, with 84 percent of federal employees in federal departments one party they have the numbers - humans will remain the dominant force in forcing change in Alaska, as we have been since the first migrants arrived from Russia.
Yet in a race for second with wildfires in Alaska is apparently beavers. As everyone knows, beavers chew wood and make dams. In 1950s photos there were no beaver ponds visible but now you can easily see the work of their dams from space. Blame climate change or that nature is out to exploit itself at every turn, it's clear they are geoengineering the tundra in a way oil drilling never would or could. But urban environmentalists can't really object.
A lake near Kotzebue, Alaska, in (left to right) 2002, 2012, and 2019. Red arrows show where beavers built a dam, which more than doubled the size of the lake. Yellow arrows show areas of likely permafrost thaw.Environmental Research Letters/Imagery © DigitalGlobe
"There's not even a lot of other animals that leave a footprint you can see from space," University of Alaska Fairbanks ecologist Ken Tape, told Insider. "The funny thing is that humans could not get a permit to do what beavers are now doing in this state."