How Biden can protect the Arctic in the wake of Willow

Nov 15, 2023

The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), located on Alaska’s North Slope, contains nearly 23 million acres, making it ten times the size of Yellowstone National Park as well as the single largest plot of contiguous public land in the United States. It contains some of the best caribou habitat in the country, which helps sustain nearby Native Alaskan communities.

In March, the Biden administration approved a massive, decades-long oil drilling plan called the Willow Project in the NPR-A, drawing immediate and widespread criticism due to the project’s climate-warming implications. But the President still has an opportunity to protect millions of acres of wild, ecologically-fragile public land inside the NPR-A, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress.

The day before approving the Willow Project, the Biden administration withdrew 2.8 million acres in the Beaufort Sea from future oil and gas leasing, putting the Arctic Ocean entirely off-limits to new leasing. The administration also announced it intended to strengthen protections for 13 million acres of public land within the NPR-A. On September 6, 2023, the administration published a proposed rule to instill these protections.

The rule includes increased protection from new oil and gas leasing for some of the most special parts of the Reserve. But it should go further, according to the CAP report. In particular, the administration should include environmental limits and mitigation on new and existing leases, improve Indigenous consultation, and assess the climate impacts of the NPR-A’s management. It is also imperative that the administration fast-tracks this rule so that it cannot be overturned by a future administration and Congress.

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Quote of the day

This is a priceless piece of property, and I just think it’s the wrong move for the people of the state of Wyoming for this to be sold.”

—Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray referring to the Kelly Parcel, WyoFile

Picture This

purple-red slot canyon with water and hiker

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

Happy belated birthday to Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument!

On November 9, 2000, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument was established by Presidential proclamation. In 23 years, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our employees working closely with the public, little of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness within the monument has changed. The area remains a monument to the beauty it contains and a place where visitors can continue to enjoy the experience of hiking 190-million-year-old petrified sand dunes and awe-inspiring canyons.

Hiker looks up towards surrounding vertical rocks at Coyote Buttes; Bob Wick

Featured image: The Teshekpuk Caribou Herd is an important subsistence resource to the residents of Atqasuk, Barrow, Nuiqsut and Wainwright in the NPR-A; BLM/Flickr