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For Immediate Release

Contact

Gwen Dobbs, Defenders of Wildlife, 202-772-0269, gdobbs@defenders.org

Press Release

Bureau of Land Management Finalizes Western Arctic Drilling Plan

Vast majority of polar bear habitat offered up to the oil industry.
WASHINGTON -

Today, the Bureau of Land Management released the Record of Decision for a revised Integrated Activity Plan for the over 22 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve), located in the state’s Western Arctic region. The final plan undermines protections for wildlife in the Reserve, allowing new leasing, exploration and development in critical polar bear habitat and other important wildlife areas. 

The plan will open lands to drilling in and around the sensitive Teshekpuk Lake Special Area that provides vital habitat for caribou, migratory birds, raptors and polar bears and eliminates the entire Colville River Special Area. These changes together with proposed leasing in the Arctic Refuge mean that virtually all of America’s Arctic coastline is subject to seismic exploration and potential future oil and gas development.

Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director, Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:  

“This plan opens up the vast majority of the land in the Reserve to drilling. It would auction off critical habitat that polar bears need to survive and vital habitat for caribou and migratory birds to oil companies. More drilling will just exacerbate the climate crisis in a region that is already experiencing warming twice as fast as anywhere on the planet. It is bad for the Western Arctic, bad for people and bad for wildlife.”

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Defenders of Wildlife is the premier U.S.-based national conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of imperiled species and their habitats in North America.

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