Statement: Trump administration’s rush to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling could be catastrophic

Unless stopped, decision could have a devastating impact on our most pristine public land
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON -- The Department of the Interior said Monday that it will invite oil companies to begin the process of leasing lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. This will formally open the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, which has been a target of oil and gas companies for decades, to fossil fuel extraction. With this decision, a rushed sale could see drilling rights go to the highest bidder just days before the Biden administration takes office. 

Environment America Public Lands Campaign Director Ellen Montgomery issued the following statement:

“This decision by the Trump administration is the latest travesty in a series of moves to open our most precious protected areas to development and destruction. For decades, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska has stood as a symbol of our nation’s strong natural legacy. Its breathtaking landscape is home to endangered polar bears, caribou, wolves, muskoxen and migratory birds that travel annually to all 50 states. Destroying their home for just a bit more oil is a tragic mistake. 

“There is no way to do massive, industrial-level oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge without damaging vital habitat. Building roads and bringing in heavy equipment disfigures the landscape before the drilling even begins. Once ruined, the refuge cannot be restored.

“America is transitioning to a new administration that has already pledged to protect the refuge. Additionally, we are rapidly transitioning to renewable energy and clean transportation options. And yet this administration is attempting to ram through a backward looking proposal. We urge all oil companies to read the tea leaves and take a pass.” 

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Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.