Although the US is required to perform an environmental impact statement for the roadway, it is not yet complete. For now, the biggest impact of the roadway will likely be small amounts of fuel dumped along the route.
Tractors running along the route will take the place of planes that currently supply the station with supplies. The route is also being used to lay a fiber-optic cable for telephone and web access. Some observers, however, worry that the highway could eventually be used for oil exploration.
Robert Swan, the first explorer to reach both the North and South Poles expressed this sentiment in an interview with The Times of London. “Roads open places up. Who says it can’t lead to exploitation — what if they eventually claim it gives them rights to prospect for oil?” he asked.
Antarctica is currently controlled by an international treaty which does not allow oil exploration. The treaty expires in 2041.