The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rebecca Bowe, Earthjustice, 415-217-2093,

Earthjustice Responds to Trump Administration's Rushed "Call for Nominations" in Arctic Refuge

Trump administration invites oil industry to gear up for drilling in sacred wildlife refuge.


Amid a growing public-health crisis, and at a time when oil prices are hitting extreme lows, the lame-duck Trump administration just announced that it will publish a "call for nominations" tomorrow, asking oil companies to identify their preferences on areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain to lease for oil drilling. The Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge, part of America's Arctic in Alaska, is land considered sacred by Indigenous people. It serves as the biological heart of the Refuge, an irreplaceable landscape with global ecological significance.

In response to the news, Earthjustice Deputy Managing Attorney Erik Grafe, based in Anchorage, issued the following statement:

"This is the Trump administration's midnight effort to sell off irreplaceable lands in the refuge before a new day dawns. We are already in court challenging the administration's decision to open the whole coastal plain to leasing, and we'll hold the line against this rushed attempt to implement the unlawful program. As the majority of Americans know, the Arctic Refuge is no place to drill."

In August, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's decision to allow oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, on behalf of the National Audubon Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a fourth plaintiff, also serves as co-counsel.

The lawsuit calls for the court to block the leasing program because its approval ignored federal law, violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act, and the National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act. The Department of Interior's oil leasing program maximizes oil development at the expense of all other protected values in the Refuge, and ignores important requirements designed to avoid such damage. The law requires Interior to fulfill all purposes of the refuge, including preserving wildlife, water, wilderness, and recreation. Yet Interior's plan does not come close to this--it opens the entire coastal plain to oil leasing, while rushing to hold this sale a full year before the deadline mandated by the 2017 Tax Act.

Read the complaint.

The lawsuit filed by Earthjustice and NRDC is one of four challenging oil drilling plans in the Arctic Refuge. Read a full coalition press statement responding to today's news.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.