Why Arctic Refuge advocates are gathering in CT today

HARTFORD — Environmental advocates trying to preserve the Arctic Refuge have convened thousands of miles away in Connecticut — home to firms that haven’t formally bowed out of insuring companies drilling in the Arctic region.

The Arctic Refuge is America’s largest wildlife refuge. It provides habitat for caribou, polar bear and migrating birds from across the globe, as well as a calving ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which contains more than 200,000 animals. Alaska’s Indigenous Iñupiat and Gwich’in people have lived there for thousands of years.

“If we care about animals and care about the planet, we want to leave that land untouched,” said Alina DeVoogd, field organizer with the Green Corp stationed in Hartford. “Furthermore, we need to move away from fossil fuels and drilling for more oil and decimating this land.”

DeVoogd, and other advocates with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, have been pushing for companies like The Hartford and Travelers to draft formal policies against insuring those that drill in the refuge.

The Gwich’in Steering Committee, which is based in Alaska, and the Connecticut Citizens Action Group have been working to engage banks, energy and insurance companies in hopes of starting a chain reaction.

“The insurance industry seeing these large companies like Travelers, or The Hartford, which considers themselves one of the most ethical companies in the insurance industry, taking that step to be an ethical insurance company and rule out these projects, I think we would consider them to be leaders in the industry, and we would hope that the rest of the industry would follow suit,” said Helen Humphreys, communications coordinator with CCAG.

The CCAG and the steering committee will hold an event at the Charter Oak Community Center in Hartford on Wednesday to raise awareness about its effort.

“There’s a lot of people in

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