An early tally shows more than 680,000 people across the United States voiced opposition to leasing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling. With 23 organizations reporting and several others yet to be counted, a total of 686,751 comments were recorded in opposition to fossil fuel development in the iconic Alaskan wilderness area. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 60-day public scoping period, on a proposal to lease 400,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, came to a close on June 19.
Others also called on the Trump administration to protect the cherished Arctic landscape. In recent weeks, 500 scholars across a variety of academic disciplines, 30 U.S. senators, investors managing more than $2.5 trillion, and 16,000 evangelical Christians all spoke out against oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A highly controversial provision included in a December 2017 tax bill opened the door to leasing for the first time in decades.
This groundswell of opposition arose despite Interior’s practice of turning people away from public hearings without giving everyone a chance to address federal officials, instead of accommodating all who wished to speak. In Anchorage and Fairbanks, the public was invited to speak on a first-come, first-served basis, leaving many unable to participate. At the one public meeting where residents of the Lower 48 were invited to offer public comment, in Washington, D.C. on June 15, BLM set the time and date on a Friday evening just before Father’s Day when many public schools were closing down for the summer.
“Whether the Trump administration is prepared to listen or not, more than 680,000 people have spoken — and their message is loud and clear,” said Marissa Knodel, Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. “The stunning landscape of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is no place to drill for oil, especially when it’s urgent that we transition away from fossil fuels and lay the groundwork for a clean-energy future.”
Earthjustice is fighting on multiple fronts to protect the irreplaceable Arctic, including with ongoing litigation to protect the Arctic Ocean from offshore drilling and to challenge new oil and gas lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Read more about our work to safeguard the Arctic.
Marissa Knodel, Earthjustice, (202) 745-4500, ext. 5235