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Protect the Western Arctic

Delivery to Secretary of the Interior Haaland

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What’s At Stake

The Willow Project is a disastrous Western Arctic drilling plan that could generate as much carbon as 76 coal plants emit in a year, jeopardize the health and traditional practices of nearby Alaska Native communities, and devastate local wildlife like polar bears, migratory birds, and caribou. Thanks to an Earthjustice lawsuit, the project is on hold for now. However, the Bureau of Land Management released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and finished a new comment period — which means that the agency is still moving towards allowing drilling. Join us in calling on Secretary of the Interior Haaland to stop the project.

Willow would lock us into decades of oil and gas production and long-term destruction to the Western Arctic. This fragile area of Alaska is already warming three times faster than the rest of the world. To add insult to injury, ConocoPhillips plans to install artificial “chillers” to refreeze the Arctic’s melting permafrost in order to build the industrial oil extraction infrastructure necessary for Willow. This melting permafrost played a role in a recent gas leak at a nearby oil field, which ConocoPhillips kept the public in the dark about for more than a month.

The stakes are too high to let our guard down. ConocoPhillips admitted to investors that Willow is just the first step in its master plan to turn the pristine Western Arctic into an industrial oil production zone. That means that if President Biden allows the project to move forward, he will actually be laying the groundwork for something much larger than even President Trump allowed.

The Biden administration gets to choose: preserve oil industry profits or preserve communities, ecosystems, and the climate. The answer is clear to us, but we need make it clear to the Biden administration. You can do your part by calling on Secretary Haaland to stop the project.

Black Brant geese (Branta bernicla nigricans) congregate to molt their flight feathers in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area.
Tyler Lewis / USGS

Black Brant geese (Branta bernicla nigricans) congregate to molt their flight feathers in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area.

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.