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Defend the Arctic Refuge from reckless oil drilling

Delivery to President Biden

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What’s At Stake

When the Trump administration rushed through an oil lease sale in the heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge days before it left office, we challenged the action in court. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order freezing oil activities in the Refuge, citing the very legal flaws we identified in our lawsuit. Last month, the Biden administration initiated a formal process to reconsider the Trump oil program, keeping all oil activity off limits during the process. This action has left us with two key fronts in the effort to protect the Arctic Refuge.

The first is Earthjustice and NRDC’s ongoing litigation, which asks the court to cancel the leasing program and leases entirely because the previous administration ignored federal law when approving the leases.

The second is the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that the Biden administration is conducting in light of the deficiencies of the previous administration’s Environmental Impact Statement. The Bureau of Land Management (the agency that manages the Arctic Refuge) is soliciting public comment as to how they should conduct the study. These are due on October 4, and they provide you with a great opportunity to raise your voice in defense of the Refuge.

Earthjustice’s attorneys are hard at work on the lawsuit to cancel the leases, but we could really use your help to tell the Bureau of Land Management why the Arctic Refuge should not be drilled for oil.

The coastal plain, where the leases were sold, is the biological heart of the Refuge — and one of the Earth’s last fully intact ecosystems. 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.

This could be our best shot to protect the Arctic Refuge for a long time. The comment period deadline is in less than a month. Bureaucrats at the Bureau of Land Management need to hear your voice, and they need to hear it now. Please join us in telling them to protect the Arctic Refuge from reckless oil drilling.

The Arctic Refuge.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The 19 million acres of tundra, rivers and mountains of the Arctic Refuge shelter migratory birds from all 50 states and six continents each summer. To the Gwich'in people of northeast Alaska, this is sacred ground.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.