Quick guide to speaking out for the Arctic Refuge and Reserve
By Dawnell Smith
In September, the Biden administration cancelled the last remaining oil and gas leases for the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. It also released new regulations with the potential to strengthen protections in the western Arctic region, or the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Last month we explained how both these actions don’t mean the Arctic is protected and that the devil is in the details. Here’s where you can make a difference.
Comments on the environmental review for the Arctic Refuge are due by Nov. 7. Comments on the proposed regulations for the Reserve are due by Nov. 17. You can take quick action right now by signing via action tools or writing comments directly to the agencies.
Quick and easy action to protect the Arctic
Many groups that Trustees works with have put out action tools to help people participate in these comment periods. Signing on will take less than a minute and cover both the Arctic Refuge and Reserve. Here are a few options.
There are also action tools specific to each comment period, like these:
- Defenders of Wildlife tool on the Arctic Refuge SEIS
- Environment America tool on western Arctic regulations
Have more to say? Comment directly on the Arctic Refuge leasing program environmental impact statement
If you want to speak up about issues specific to the Arctic Refuge, go to the agency planning page where you can see the draft supplemental environmental impact statement and share your concerns and views with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service. Here are some general things worth saying.
- Express opposition to any and all oil and gas activity on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, a region sacred to the Gwich’in Nation and an area that the majority of Americans want to protect.
- Thank the administration for canceling existing leases in the Refuge, and then ask that it include the strongest protections possible in the final environmental impact statement and record of decision.
- Ask the agencies to close loopholes within the Arctic Refuge leasing plan that allow oil and gas companies to get around protections and restrictions.
- Ask the agencies to acknowledge the food and cultural needs of the Gwich’in of Alaska and Canada, including their physical and cultural connection with the Porcupine caribou herd.
- Note that none of the leasing proposals considered in the draft environmental impact statement provide strong enough protections for the Porcupine caribou herd and that none addresses ongoing climate impacts on the herd. Ask the agencies to provide and support an alternative that does both.
- Note that no of the leasing proposals provide enough protection for onshore denning habitat for polar bears, particularly denning sows and cubs, and ask that the agencies provide and support an alternative that does.
Comment directly on proposed western Arctic regulations
To comment in writing, go to the Bureau of Land Management’s planning site. Here are some general points worth making.
- Thank the administration for strengthening protections for part of the western Arctic.
- Tell the agency to remove loopholes that could allow oil and gas activities and infrastructure within designated special areas.
- Ask for more restrictions on existing oil and gas projects, such as ConocoPhillips’ Willow project.
- Ask the agency to safeguard the entire region, not just designated special areas.
The Northern Alaska Environmental Center has additional information about commenting on western Arctic regulations and the draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the Arctic Refuge leasing program.
Whether you type out your thoughts directly to the agency, speak out at hearings, or sign a petition, you can give voice right now to why and how you want the Arctic protected for the benefit of local communities, the planet, and future generations.