WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Interior announced that it will hold a lease sale to sell off the delicate coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling on January 6.
In their rushed review process for drilling in the coastal plain, the administration has ignored the human rights of Indigenous people that depend on the land and wildlife in the Arctic Refuge for their food security of way of life, as well as the impacts on wildlife like caribou and threatened polar bears and on the climate. In racing forward to hold this lease sale before Trump leaves office, the administration did not even wait for the current step in the process, a comment period on a “request for nominations,” to end before scheduling the sale.
Any oil company that takes part in the sale will face an uphill battle to take advantage of leases in the coastal plain. More than two dozen banks have ruled out funding for new drilling in the Arctic, this leasing program is currently being challenged in court, and President-Elect Joe Biden has pledged to protect the Arctic Refuge from drilling.
In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
“This is a shameful attempt by Donald Trump to give one last handout to the fossil fuel industry on his way out the door, at the expense of our public lands and our climate. The Trump administration’s rushed and sloppy push to sell off the Arctic Refuge for drilling has been a disaster from day one, and has ignored the serious and permanent damage drilling would do to this unique ecosystem and the communities that depend on it. Any company that’s foolish enough to bid in this illegal lease sale is bidding on enormous legal and financial uncertainty, not to mention a massive public backlash from the American people who overwhelmingly oppose drilling in this special place. Unlike Donald Trump’s political career, the fight to protect the Arctic Refuge is far from over.”