The Trump administration today released a record of decision finalizing plans for oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, opening up the 1.6-million acre coastal plain of the public-lands area to fossil fuel development for the first time. Indigenous Gwich’in people consider the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge to be sacred because it serves as the calving grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, animals the Alaska Native people rely upon for food and cultural tradition. For decades, people across the country and beyond have worked diligently to protect the Arctic Refuge from fossil fuel development to protect its stunning natural beauty and rare Arctic wildlife, including endangered polar bears.
Earthjustice Deputy Managing Attorney Erik Grafe, from the Alaska Regional Office in Anchorage, issued the following statement in response:
“President Trump’s decision runs roughshod over laws designed to protect wildlife like polar bears and caribou, which have used the coastal plain since time immemorial as a refuge to give birth to their young every year. The administration’s plan to ruin this place for short-term private oil profit is unlawful, and we will soon see them in court. The sacred, wild, and irreplaceable Arctic Refuge is the last place we should be surrendering to dead-end oil development that will only worsen the climate crisis.”