Visions of the Arctic

Of all the places Earthjustice works to protect, few are as iconic and misunderstood as the Arctic. At best, it conjures images of a distant, icy land sparsely inhabited by polar bears and walruses—beautiful, but removed from our everyday lives. At worst, it's a frozen wasteland devoid of life but rich in oil, a place to exploit at will. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The Arctic is a thriving, diverse landscape filled with life. Here, caribou in the hundreds of thousands still embark on epic migrations across mighty rivers and coastal plains. And here, wetlands, lakes and oceans teem with life, supporting whales, polar bears, seals and waterfowl.


Take Action! A Call To Suspend Arctic Ocean Drilling

Ringed seals rest on the ice near a breathing and escape hole. If the sea ice begins to melt much earlier in the year, ringed seals will lose their resting platforms. Beaufort Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz /

Take ActionDespite the fact that Shell hasn't even started the riskiest part of its drilling operations, the company has made mistake after high-risk mistake. America can do better than risk environmental disaster by allowing the industry to explore for dirty oil from the Arctic Ocean. Make your voice heard today!

Cases: Current Related Litigation

Shell's Oil Spill Response Plans
Earthjustice is representing several clients to challenge the federal government's approval of Shell Oil's oil spill response plans for the Arctic Ocean. Earthjustice brought the challenge in the Alaska District Court in July 2012. The lawsuit focuses on two spill plans—the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas spill plans—but ultimately it addresses requirements that apply nationwide.

Case Details  |  Complaint  |  Press Release

Chemical Oil Dispersant Rulemaking
Earthjustice is representing a coalition of conservation, wildlife and public health groups in the Gulf region and in Alaska in a citizen suit under the provisions of the federal Clean Water Act to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue a rule on chemical oil dispersants. EPA’s current rules—which during the 2010 Gulf oil disaster failed to ensure that dispersants would be used safely—do not fulfill the requirements mandated by the Clean Water Act. Currently, regulations dictating dispersants eligible for use in oil spills require minimal toxicity testing and no threshold for safety.

Case Details  |  Complaint  |  Press Release

Trip's Columns: On the Arctic

Photo of Trip Van Noppen.

Trip Van Noppen is the president of Earthjustice.

Many of Trip's monthly columns have covered the decades-long legal fight to protect the fragile Arctic ecosystem from the impacts of oil and gas development.

Down to Earth: An Earthjustice Podcast

Down to Earth, on iTunes.

Down to Earth is an podcast series about the news, events and personalities of Earthjustice. Listen to two Arctic-related episodes:

June 2012

Florian Schulz on Icy Adventures and Arctic Stressors

Acclaimed photographer Florian Schulz discusses his experiences in the rapidly changing Arctic.

   Listen »   

May 2012

On Thin Ice:
Ice Melt in the Arctic

As Arctic temperatures increase, research suggests that warmer waters could shift weather patterns elsewhere.

   Listen »   

Arctic Campaign Ads

Earthjustice and a coalition of conservation groups launched an ad campaign in 2010, urging the White House to call a time-out to Arctic oil drilling.

Screencapture of Arctic TV ad.

Pushing the Pause Button...

A 30 second TV spot ran nationally on CNN and on additional stations in the D.C. area. About the ad.

View TV Ad

Newspaper advertisement for Arctic.

Dear Mr. President...

Full page ads appeared in several newspapers. About the ads.

View New York Times Ad
View Washington Post Ad

Make a contribution

Photo of muskoxen. Florian Schulz /
Donate nowYour donation to Earthjustice helps us protect the Arctic's incredible wildlife and public lands. Make a pledge of support today!

Featured Stories

On behalf of a coalition of conservation and indigenous rights organizations, Earthjustice is suing to challenge the federal government’s approval of Shell Oil Company’s Chukchi and Beaufort Sea oil spill response plans.
Of all the places Earthjustice works to protect, few are as iconic and misunderstood as the Arctic. View a slideshow of Florian Schulz's Arctic photography, showcasing the beauty of the Arctic and the threats the region faces from industrialization and climate change.
Take Action! Despite the fact that Shell hasn't even started the riskiest part of its drilling operations, the company has made mistake after high-risk mistake. Tell President Obama: America can do better than risk environmental disaster by allowing the industry to explore for dirty oil from the Arctic Ocean.
On a muggy summer Tuesday morning, polar bears, a walrus, a sandpiper and 150 activists delivered to White House more than one million comments from concerned members of the public—all asking President Obama to stop plans by Shell Oil to drill in the remote, fragile waters of the Arctic Ocean.
The lowest amounts of Arctic sea ice on record since satellite monitoring began in 1979 have all been recorded during the last six years. It’s possible to slow the pace of warming and melting in the Arctic in the near term by reducing emissions of soot and smog, which would have fast climate benefits.
61 members of Congress showed their support for the Arctic Ocean, sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that urged him not to schedule new Arctic Ocean lease sales until a plan is in place that prioritizes protection of the Arctic’s fragile and abundant marine ecosystem.
An interview with attorney Erika Rosenthal on how Earthjustice is engaging the international community in the process of reducing the causes of climate change, including tackling emissions on the international stage and working to reduce emissions of other global warming pollutants, like black carbon and ozone, which are accelerating warming and melting in the Arctic.
In 2012, scientists from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center confirmed that Arctic sea ice extent reached a record low, beating the previous mid-September low in 2007. Arctic sea ice cools the planet, while providing refuge for much of the region’s iconic wildlife. When ice melts it reveals darker Arctic Ocean water, which in turn absorbs more heat from the sun, further heating the region.
Soot, also known as black carbon, is the second-leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide, and it's totally preventable. We already have the technology to avoid producing soot—it's just a matter of using it.
Earthjustice's blog unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. Find out the latest on our Arctic litigation and advocacy work, as well as other related news, on unEARTHED.