The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken the next step in a rushed process to lead toward oil drilling within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including pushing for a lease sale to oil and gas companies as soon as this year. On December 20th, BLM released its draft Environmental Impact Statement on this plan. The document, however, does not fully account for the significant harm that drilling would inflict on the vast numbers of birds that depend on the Arctic Refuge, threatened polar bears that build their dens on the coastal plain, caribou, and the Alaska Native people who rely on the Refuge for subsistence.
A public comment period is open through March 13th. You can visit our Action Center to submit a public comment to oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge and share your concerns about the inadequate environmental review.
The administration is also considering whether to allow harmful seismic testing on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. While some news reports have indicated that the Refuge may get a reprieve from this dangerous activity for the remainder of this winter, we expect decisions on these permits to be issued soon, which could still impact the Refuge later this year when the ground refreezes.
Meanwhile, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), joined by 100 other cosponsors, introduced legislation that would undo the damaging provision that passed in the 2017 tax bill allowing drilling in the Refuge. This legislation would return longstanding protections to the Refuge, and is a critical step toward stopping the threat to this wildlife nursery and ensuring that it always remains a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. Audubon urges Congress to take up and advance the bill.