AK WILD INSIDER: CAMPAIGN UPDATES
Photo Credit: Florian Schulz
Below, enjoy some key highlights from our current campaigns to keep Alaska wild.
Arctic Refuge Lease Sale Timing Remains Up in the Air
The new year brings continued efforts by the Trump administration to get an oil and gas lease sale on the books for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge prior to the 2020 election. Initially, Interior Department officials had promised to complete an initial sale by the end of 2019, however, a recklessly rushed process that has seen the administration repeatedly sideline and silence its own scientists, refuse to conduct recommended new studies and dismiss expert concerns about impacts to wildlife appears to be catching up with them. Still, the pressure to get something done before a potential political shift remains strong and something Secretary Bernhardt remains intent on doing. A final Record of Decision (ROD) on the leasing plan could come within weeks with an actual lease sale following in the spring. Of course, the release of the ROD is also an opportunity for us to challenge the inadequacy of the environmental review, which we and our partners fully expect to do.
Alaskans Voice Support for Goldman Sachs and its Pledge not to Fund Arctic Refuge Drilling
Alaska Wilderness League worked with Cook Inletkeeper on a letter from more than 550 Alaskans from 68 communities thanking investment bank Goldman Sachs for its recent decision not to fund oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The letter recognizes that leadership and counters a efforts by Alaska’s Governor to pressure Goldman to change course. You can read the full letter here. Goldman Sachs has joined more than a dozen major banks that have adopted policies against financing projects there.
Final Roadless Plan for Tongass National Forest Expected in May
So much hard work was done over the course of the public comment period on the proposed Alaska specific Roadless Rule exemption draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)—400,000 individual comments submitted; 13 tribes and city governments in SE Alaska, 254 commercial fisherman in SE Alaska, more than 100 elected officials, nearly 200 businesses in Alaska and the lower-48, and 234 scientists told the U.S. Forest Service that they oppose removing Roadless Rule protections from the Tongass National Forest. A final EIS is expected to be released in May, and until then, we will continue to build support for the Roadless Area Conservation Act in both the House and Senate.
Comment Period on New National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska Management Plan is now closed
In the final hours of the Integrated Activity Plan draft Environmental Impact Statement comment period, the Bureau of Land Management decided to extend the comment period another two weeks into February. While the League continues to build public support to keep current protections in place, we also worked with Representatives Lowenthal (D-CA), Grijalva (D-AZ) and Huffman (D-CA)—and 45 of their colleagues who sent a letter to BLM in opposition to the administration’s proposed alternatives. You can read their letter here.