Defending the Arctic Refuge from Oil & Gas Drilling

To the Gwich’in people of northeast Alaska, this is sacred ground. Emissions from oil and gas development would exacerbate the climate crisis and raise global sea levels. Melting permafrost could release large amounts of methane, which is roughly 30 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Case Overview

Generations of Americans have protected the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from development.

The Arctic Refuge, which spans 19 million acres across northeast Alaska, is one of the planet’s last fully intact wild landscapes. The region’s tundra, rivers, and mountains shelter migratory birds from all 50 states and six continents each summer. Grizzlies, wolverines, musk ox, and tens of thousands of caribou also call the Refuge home.

Scientists believe that if we’re to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, it is essential to keep Arctic fossil fuel reserves in the ground. There currently is no oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge.

Political leaders have repeatedly determined that drilling in the Refuge is a terrible idea. Yet, in 2017, then-President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill that used backdoor budgetary tactics to open the Refuge’s coastal plain to oil and gas drilling.

Earthjustice is working with a broad coalition of partners to oppose reckless attempts to hand over the publicly owned wilderness of the Arctic Refuge to the oil and gas industry.

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

Case Updates

The Arctic Refuge.
September 6, 2023 Press Release

Earthjustice Celebrates Cancellation of Arctic Refuge Leases and Proposed Future Actions

Biden administration cancels illegal leases and opens new processes that could preserve cherished Arctic lands in Alaska. More is needed to tackle the biggest climate threat: further oil drilling on existing oil and gas leases in the Western Arctic 

A field in the Arctic Refuge
September 6, 2023 Action Alert

We need the strongest possible protections for the Arctic

Send a message to the Biden administration thanking them for the progress toward protecting the Arctic and urge them to consider the strongest possible protections for this region.

A bowhead whale and calf surface in the Arctic Ocean.
October 20, 2021 feature

Northern Fights

By land and by sea, America’s Arctic is under attack. Earthjustice is fighting on multiple fronts to protect this irreplaceable region and keep the Arctic’s fossil fuels in the ground.