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Special Places in the Western Arctic Put Off-Limits to Oil, Gas Drilling
Washington, D.C. -- In a move that will protect nearly 11 million acres of important wildlife habitat, the Department of Interior today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for its plan to manage the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in the western Arctic. The Reserve is the country’s largest and wildest piece of public land and includes many areas vital for wildlife and Native communities. Under the administration’s management plan, oil and gas leasing in the Reserve will be balanced with conservation of important wildlife areas.
In response Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement.
“Today’s announcement is great news for conservation in America’s Arctic. The final plan makes it clear that a balanced approach for using and protecting the western Arctic is possible and beneficial. For the first time it recognizes the importance of the Reserve for wildlife and Native communities, not just for fossil fuel development.
“The Reserve 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. The areas most important wildlife – areas like Tshekpuk Lake and the Utukok Uplands – must be kept off-limits to drilling and mining.
“This plan reflects the widespread desire voiced by Alaska Natives, businesses, scientists, and hundreds of thousands of Americans for protection of these irreplaceable special places in the western Arctic. We look forward to seeing these areas thrive as the plan is implemented.
”We look forward to continuing to work with the Obama Administration to fight climate disruption and to protect the special places in America's Arctic. The best solution 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 opening up our Arctic wonders to drilling and mining.”