We should not sacrifice the most important wildlife areas in the Arctic in a blind pursuit for more oil and gas. There are millions of acres in our country already authorized for or being developed. The Trump administration wants to destroy this vital wild place when they already have more access to oil and gas than they use. The Bureau of Land Management has a statutory duty to protect the remarkable fish and wildlife values in the Reserve, and the current management plan accomplishes these goals. The administration should focus its time on pressing issues facing our nation rather than destroying this national treasure.
Patrick Lavin, Alaska representative for Defenders of Wildlife
WASHINGTON,
20
November
2018
|
03:54 PM
America/New_York

For Immediate Release

Trump Administration Seeks Even More Arctic Industrialization

The Trump administration continued its assault today on the fragile ecosystems of Alaska’s Arctic, announcing that it is revising the management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (Reserve) to open more of the area to oil and gas development. As with the aggressive effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing and seismic exploration, this move will put critical wildlife habitat in the crosshairs of the administration’s misguided “energy dominance” mission.

The current management plan already allows development on over 11 million acres of the Reserve, not to mention the millions of acres earmarked for oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that are not being used. It also protects the most sensitive wildlife habitat from development impacts, including the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. One of the most ecologically important wetlands in the entire Arctic, this sensitive area provides habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl including tens of thousands of molting geese, threatened species such as polar bears and the Spectacled Eider, and the 40,000-head Teshekpuk Caribou Herd. The revision is intended to open additional areas to oil and gas drilling, likely including the Teshekpuk Lake area.

Statement from Patrick Lavin, Alaska senior representative for Defenders of Wildlife:

“We should not sacrifice the most important wildlife areas in the Arctic in a blind pursuit for more oil and gas. There are millions of acres in our country already authorized for or being developed. The Trump administration wants to destroy this vital wild place when they already have more access to oil and gas than they use. The Bureau of Land Management has a statutory duty to protect the remarkable fish and wildlife values in the Reserve, and the current management plan accomplishes these goals. The administration should focus its time on pressing issues facing our nation rather than destroying this national treasure.”

Background:

The Reserve was initially established as the Naval Petroleum Reserve in 1923. In 1976, it was renamed and management authority was transferred to the Department of Interior, with statutory direction to assure the maximum protection of any significant subsistence, recreational, fish and wildlife, historical and scenic values, while exploring the Reserve’s petroleum resources. The Secretary of Interior first established protections for the Teshekpuk Lake, Colville River and Utukok River uplands Special Areas in 1977, primarily to protect waterfowl, raptor and caribou populations, respectively.

The Reserve encompasses over 22 million acres – about the size of Indiana. It is home to polar bears, Pacific walrus, spotted seals, two herds of caribou, and many avian species, including threatened Spectacled Eiders, King Eiders, Red-throated Loons, Dunlins and Buff-breasted Sandpipers.

The current management plan for the Reserve, called an Integrated Activity Plan, was finalized in 2013 and retained the three Special Areas noted above. It also added the Peard Bay and Kasegaluk Lagoon Special Areas (habitat for polar bears, walrus, seals and waterbirds). These areas are on the western end of the Reserve and not close to any existing development. Much of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area is unavailable for oil and gas leasing.

The Teshekpuk Lake Special Area is the closest to existing oilfield development and may be the protected area subject to the most industry interest in being opened for oil and gas development.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.