In its last month in office, the Trump administration sold and signed lease contracts for oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge, putting one of the Earth’s last fully intact ecosystems at the mercy of the oil industry. This attack wasn’t surprising — the Trump administration mandated a lease sale in its 2017 tax giveaway that sold out working people and the planet for the benefit of corporations and polluters — but it is unprecedented and poses a dire threat to the Arctic Refuge. Tell Secretary Haaland to take action to protect the Arctic Refuge now.
President Biden suspended the leases last year, and the only other two companies to bid on leases last January have canceled the leases they purchased because they don’t think drilling is viable — economically or politically. However, the state of Alaska bought leases in the Refuge and remains committed to developing oil. Meanwhile, the law requiring a lease sale in the Refuge is still on the books, mandating yet another lease sale in 2024, and there’s no guarantee that the next administration will keep the lease suspensions in place.
Now that the Inflation Reduction Act has been passed by Congress without repealing the Arctic drilling program, the Biden administration must take decisive action to rescind these unlawful leases.
The coastal plain is the biological heart of the Refuge. It is where the 200,000 caribou of the Porcupine Herd birth and raise their young each year. The Gwich’in People, whose way of life and culture depend on the herd, consider the coastal plain sacred. It’s also home to polar bears, and birds from all 50 states gather there to breed every summer.
The Arctic Refuge is already ground zero for climate change impacts and should not be sacrificed for oil extraction that will further exacerbate the climate crisis. Please join us in urging Secretary Haaland to seize this important leadership opportunity by rescinding the remaining leases in the Refuge.