Stop Arctic Coastal Plain Oil Drilling
The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is iconic because of its exceptional wilderness, wildlife, habitat, and subsistence values. It is sacred to the Gwich’in Nation and other Indigenous communities in Alaska and Canada, who rely on its resources for food, cultural, and spiritual practices.
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included a provision that authorizes an oil and gas leasing program on the Arctic Coastal Plain and, among other things, mandates one lease sale by 2021 and a second by 2024. It tasked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with managing the program.
In August 2020 the Trump Administration issued a final record of decision making the entire 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain available for oil leasing. It is anticipated that a lease sale may be held before the end 2020. Immediate steps must be taken to halt the lease sale, suspend any issued leases, and move toward Wilderness designation of the Coastal Plain.
Recommended actions to protect Arctic Coastal Plain:
- Deny issuance of any unissued leases, suspend any issued leases, and ultimately cancel existing leases
- Prevent any oil and gas activities on the Coastal Plain by suspending all permits and authorizations related to the oil and gas program and undertake additional actions to review and revise the leasing program.
- Cancel a second lease sale.
- Additionally, the Executive Branch must work with Congressional allies to restore statutory protections that were stripped by the Tax Act and should use the President’s FY2022 Budget Request to advance protections and halt activities.
All images in this article © Brad Meiklejohn
Brad Meiklejohn directed The Conservation Fund’s work in Alaska for a quarter century, saving hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. He still works part-time with The Conservation Fund but is taking extra time to pack-raft remote rivers and explore wild country. Brad’s previous articles in Rewilding Earth addressed the need for a wildlife crossing at Bowman Divide in northern New Hampshire, dangers to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the successful story of dam removal on the Eklutna River. Brad is a member of our Rewilding Leadership Council.