Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 20, 2018

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 844-7108,

Trump Moves to Open Alaska Wilderness to More Oil Leasing

New Plan Could Remove Wildlife Protections From Western Arctic

ANCHORAGE— The Trump administration today moved to open protected wildlife habitat in the northern Alaska wilderness to expanded oil and gas leasing. The Bureau of Land Management announced plans to redo the Integrated Activity Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, aiming to remove “special area” protections around Colville River and Teshekpuk Lake, home to the world’s largest caribou herds and flocks of migratory birds.

This western Arctic region is the largest roadless area and largest parcel of public land in the United States. The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups sued the Trump administration in February for failing to study how its drastic expansion of NPR-A fossil fuel leasing would impact wildlife and climate change.

“We should protect our last remaining wilderness areas, not industrialize them. Keeping northern Alaska wild helps avert climate chaos and the extinction crisis,” said Miyoko Sakashita, ocean program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Once we let the oil industry build roads, wells and pipelines in this special place, there’s no going back. What’s needed is an end to exploiting the Arctic for fossil fuels, not a new plan for drilling.”

The Trump administration last year offered all available land in the Arctic reserve to oil companies — a total of 900 tracts covering more than 10.3 million acres, an area larger than 12 states. In response to a lawsuit from conservation groups, in 2013 the BLM agreed to exempt the most ecologically sensitive areas from fossil fuel leasing, a decision the Trump administration is now revisiting.

“Our wilderness areas have only become more valuable as the extinction crisis grows and our climate changes. There’s absolutely no basis for the Trump administration to expand its assault on the Western Arctic,” Sakashita said. “We need to leave this oil safely in the ground and protect this vital habitat for birds, caribou and grizzly bears.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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