Audubon Advisory

Vital Arctic Habitat in Jeopardy

Administration Targets Arctic Refuge, and Western Arctic, for Oil Drilling

In a one-two punch for Arctic-dependent birds, two recent actions threaten vital Arctic habitat. First, the President’s budget blueprint proposed opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Then, a week after the budget was released, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed an order that could threaten 11 million acres to the west of the Refuge, in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, including the vital Teshekpuk Lake area.

The budget proposal, released in May, outlines the White House's requested funding levels for programs and agencies to Congress. As part of this proposal, the Administration called for raising federal revenue by opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. This troubling action could set the stage for Congress to include a similar plan in their own budget proposals, known as budget resolutions. If included, it presents a serious threat to the Arctic Refuge and the millions of birds that depend on it, since a House-passed budget resolution allows the Senate to skirt the filibuster and make it easier to push through Congress through backdoor tactics. You can ask your Members of Congress to keep the Refuge out the budget process through our Action Center.

The following week, Secretary Zinke signed an order that puts at risk another critical Arctic landscape for birds—Teskekpuk Lake in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, also known as the Western Arctic or the Reserve. At 23 million acres, the Reserve is located just a few hundred miles to the west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has its own vast coastal plain and wetland habitat. The critical Teshekpuk Lake area provides a safe haven for molting Brant and nesting grounds for Yellow-billed Loons, Spectacled Eiders, and countless shorebirds. Audubon was instrumental in advocating for the protection of Teshekpuk Lake and 11 million acres in the Reserve as part of its management plan—the Integrated Activity Plan. Now, Secretary Zinke has called for a review of this plan, which could begin a process to undo critical protections that birds need and lead to oil development in places like Teshekpuk Lake. Please write to Secretary Zinke and ask him to uphold these protections and keep this plan in place.

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