The question of whether or not we should drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most contentious public lands debates in the United States. Even though most Americans would have a hard time finding it on a map, the topic seems to ignite intense feelings in just about everyone.
After 40 years of fighting, Congress voted in December 2017 to allow drilling in the refuge. As we release this, the Trump Administration says they’ll start auctioning off development rights to oil companies as soon as this winter. But opponents to drilling are trying to stop that from happening, and at this point, no one really knows how things will play out.
In this episode, we take you to the refuge, track down the origin story of the conflict, and follow that conflict through the decades.
This series was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.