C: US Fish and Wildlife Service

As I write, the evidence of our unrelenting climate emergency is all too apparent.

Last last night, Hurricane Iota made landfall on Nicaragua’s north-eastern coastline as a powerful category 4 storm with winds of up to 155 mph. It hit only 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall two weeks ago, which left 200 people dead.

According to the National Hurricane Center, “life threatening flash flooding and river flooding” is expected across large swathes of Central America, coupled with mudslides.

This year’s hurricane season is going off the charts. Iota is the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year and only the second hurricane in the month of November to reach a category five, the last being in 1932.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has broken the record for the number of named storms. As the NYT reports: “There have been 30 named storms this year, and 13 of them were hurricanes. It’s the most active Atlantic season on record.”

We are witnessing climate change in action. “The warmer ocean waters that climate change brings are expected to make the stronger storms stronger and make them rapidly intensify more frequently and at a greater rate,” Dr. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and contributor to Yale Climate Connections recently told the Guardian. “These things have already been observed, particularly in the Atlantic, and it’s going to be increasingly so in coming decades.”

Every day our climate crisis gets worse, demanding an urgent political response. By nearly all reputable accounts, the U.S. election resulted with President-elect Joe Biden as the clear winner. But, President Trump has yet to concede on neither the results of the election nor his denial of our climate emergency, Rather, Trump seems determined to try and push his rabid fossil fuel agenda through to his last day in office. Until the dying breath of his Presidency, he will do the bidding of Big Oil.

It is not hard to connect the dots as to why. As the Guardian reported earlier today, “Fossil-fuel firms are among the biggest donors to the defeated U.S. president and the Republican party leaders who have endorsed his legal challenge to overturn the election result.”

Yesterday, it was reported that officials in his administration were “rushing to auction” off rights to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) before the new incoming Biden Administration can block it.

According to the Washington Post, “officials aim to sell drilling rights to the pristine wilderness’s coastal plain before the president-elect takes office.”

This fits into a wider push by the administration to press ahead “with other moves to expand energy development and scale back federal environmental rules over the next few weeks,” says the Post, including opening “up the vast majority of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to drilling.”

With regards to ANWR, Trump wants to “lock in” rights to oil companies on the coastal plain. To that end, today, the Interior Department is offering a “call for nominations” for leases on the 1.6 million acre coastal plain.

According to the Federal Register: “BLM Alaska must receive all nominations and comments on these tracts on or before December 17, 2020.”

So the Administration is trying to rush this though as fast as possible, giving 30 days for comment and then 30 days to make a decision. It could issue the leases just days before the President-elect is sworn in.

However, the Post notes that even if there is enthusiasm to trash ANWR, America’s last great wilderness, by the lame duck Administration, “it is unclear how much appetite there is in the oil and gas industry for drilling in the refuge, given the lack of infrastructure there and the public backlash that could accompany such a move.”

The NYT adds, “should sales proceed, it is unclear how much interest drilling in the refuge will attract from oil companies. It would be at least a decade before oil would be produced from there, and by then the drive to wean the world from fossil fuels may have lessened the need for it. Arctic oil production is also difficult and costly; companies may decide it’s not worth the effort financially. They also may fear the potential impact to their reputations by drilling in such a pristine place.”

So despite Trump’s antics, the fight for ANWR is not yet over.

Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, told the Post: “Any company thinking about participating in this corrupt process should know that they will have to answer to the Gwich’in people and the millions of Americans who stand with us. We have been protecting this place forever.”