NATIONAL PETROLEUM RESERVE-ALASKA

Development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in Alaska's western Arctic has begun, multiple drilling projects are on the horizon, and industry has shifted its focus to gaining access to protected "Special Areas" including the sensitive wildlife habitat surrounding Teshekpuk Lake.

The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska — or Reserve — is the largest single unit of public lands in the nation, spanning nearly 23 million acres across Alaska's western North Slope.

The Reserve includes some of our nation’s most vital natural resources — millions of acres of wilderness-quality lands with critical habitat for migratory birds, brown bears, caribou, threatened polar bears, walrus, endangered beluga whales and more. The Alaska Native communities that live in and around the Reserve have maintained a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years based on its living resources.

Birds from all four flyways in North America, plus several international flyways, migrate to the Reserve every year to raise their young. Tundra swans from the Atlantic Flyway, white-fronted geese from the Mississippi Flyway, pintails from the Central Flyway, and Pacific black brant from the Pacific Flyway converge on this summer destination, just to name a few. Even shorebirds from as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand find their way north to the Reserve.

Five Special Areas of exceptional wildlife value have been are set aside for protection within the Reserve. 

FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT SPECIAL AREAS:
Peard Bay | Colville River | Kasegaluk Lagoon| Teshepuk Lake | Utukok River Uplands

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CURRENT THREATS

THE WILLOW DRILLING PLAN

Our Latest Press release about Willow:
Biden admin., ConocoPhillips declined to appeal Willow decision in Alaska’s western Arctic
District court nullified massive oil project’s approvals and permits due to “serious errors” in the analysis

Washington — The Biden administration and ConocoPhillips have elected not to appeal an August 2021 U.S. District Court decision that voided the flawed Trump-era approvals and permits for ConocoPhillips’s Willow Master Development Plan in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Alaska Wilderness League is one of six groups that filed suit in November 2020 charging the Trump Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management with illegally and prematurely authorizing Willow despite the harm it would cause to Arctic communities, public health and wildlife, and without a plan to effectively mitigate those harms. The suit also challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for underestimating Willow’s harm to protected polar bears. Willow would have added five drill sites, 37 miles of new gravel roads, seven bridges, an airstrip, almost 500 miles of ice roads, and a gravel mine to ConocoPhillips' already extensive footprint in the western Arctic. The Biden administration previously defended Willow in district court.

Statement by Kristen Miller, Acting Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League:

“Willow is exactly the type of massive Arctic oil project that cannot move forward if we’re serious about addressing climate impacts, especially in a state and a region already on the front lines of the climate crisis. Projects like Willow, which would have produced 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years and emitted hundreds of millions of metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere throughout its lifetime, are incompatible with meeting our nation’s long-term climate and environmental justice goals.

“The prior administration approved Willow while ignoring local communities and failing to address risks to people, land, water or wildlife. With Willow’s approval now revoked, President Biden can chart a new course in America's Arctic that prioritizes meaningful and robust tribal consultation, recognizes environmental justice concerns, and prioritizes climate-focused management of this important landscape for generations to come.”