Trump Administration Moves to Open Arctic Refuge

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Land Management today took a key step to open the Arctic Refuge to polluters, releasing its final environmental impact statement for oil and gas leasing. 


The move, which comes the very day lawmakers voted to permanently protect the Refuge, is a key step in opening the area to polluters—and could pave the way for companies to begin the process of drilling there within a matter of months.  After decades of protection, the Arctic Refuge will be subject to oil and gas leasing as a result of a provision mandating it, that Republican leaders slipped into the 2017 tax bill.


The following is a statement from Garett Rose, staff attorney for the Alaska Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council:


“The majority of Americans want this sacred area protected.  And within hours of Congress taking action, the Trump administration is moving with haste to destroy it.


“This sham ‘review’ unlawfully opens the entire coastal plain to leasing and fails to minimize damage to this unique environment.  It violates what is sacred ground to, and a source of subsistence for, the Gwich’in peopleIt does not meaningfully protect the Porcupine caribou herd, polar bears, migratory birds and other wildlife from encroachment by oil and gas developers.


“Moreover, the administration is taking taxpayers for a ride.  It tried to justify all this destruction with promises of wealth that are illusory, according to recent revenue projections.


“We will challenge the administration’s unlawful move to violate America’s last pristine wildlands.”


Links to statements on this week's legislative action are here and here.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC