Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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August 13, 2012

Contact: Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x 102

 Obama Administration Proposes Plan for Western Arctic

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar today announced the agency’s preferred plan for managing the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in the western Arctic.  While the plan allows oil and gas development in the Reserve, it protects areas important for wildlife and Native communities.

In response Athan Manuel, Director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Campaign issued the following statement.

“We’re encouraged by the plan put forth today. The Reserve is the country’s largest, wildest landscape. It supports the calving grounds of our nation’s largest caribou herd, the highest concentration of grizzly bears and wolverines in the Arctic, and provides critical habitat for millions of shorebirds and waterfowl. Its living resources have supported Alaska Native communities for thousands of years.

The areas most important to wildlife must be kept off-limits to development. A balanced approach and permanent protections for the special places, like Teshekpuk Lake and the Utukok Uplands, in America’s Arctic are needed. Native leaders, businesses, scientists, and thousands of Americans have all submitted comments asking for protection of these irreplaceable special places in the western Arctic; we hope that the final plan continues to reflect that widespread desire.

 Unfortunately areas in the western Arctic are not the only places at risk from drilling and development. Special places in the Polar Bear Seas and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge still need protections as well. The ultimate protection, both for wild places and consumer pocketbooks, is to move our country beyond oil. We should be investing in ways to make our cars cleaner and more efficient and expanding our transportation choices, not unnecessarily drilling in these sensitive areas.”