On March 7th, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance joined with partners in the Alaska Coalition to sign a letter to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In the letter, we and our business and organizational partners call attention to the grave deficiencies of the EIS.
Our businesses and organizations represent a broad and diverse constituency that deeply believe the Arctic Refuge deserves a robust and fair environmental review and that oil and gas activities on the Coastal Plain will cause irreparable harm to the crown jewel of our nation’s Refuge system. BLM fails to adequately analyze how oil and gas development would harm polar bears, subsistence, water resources, and caribou.
The coastal plain is a sacred landscape to the Gwich’in people who are culturally and spiritually connected to the Porcupine caribou herd and depend on caribou for subsistence. Hundreds of thousands of caribou migrate to the coastal plain every year to calve and rear newborns on the nutrient rich grounds.
The Arctic Refuge is home to some of the most stunning populations of wildlife in the world. In addition to the Porcupine caribou herd, polar bears, musk oxen and hundreds of species of migratory birds make their way to the coastal plain for its rich and varied ecosystems and excellent denning, nesting, and forage grounds. The Refuge supports the highest density of land denning for polar bears, as melting sea ice forces bears inland. While the BLM acknowledges the importance of the coastal plain to wildlife, the draft EIS lacks sufficient analysis on the extent of impacts oil and gas activities would have on the animals that depend on the Refuge.
The comment period on the draft EIS is now closed. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance will continue to keep our members informed on the issue. Read the full letter below.