The Department of Interior has issued a call for nominations asking oil companies to identify their preferences on areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain to lease for oil drilling. In response, WWF issued the following statement from Margaret Williams, managing director, Arctic Program:
“The announcement to open up areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain to lease for oil exploration is the latest move in a series of rushed and harmful decisions for one of our nation’s most precious natural treasures.
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is also home to one of the largest concentrations of onshore polar bear maternity dens in the United States, the calving grounds for the long-distance migratory Porcupine Caribou Herd, millions of birds and 19 million acres of intact habitat. The intensive activity, noise and vibrations will disturb the wildlife and there is no way to effectively eliminate that risk. Oil drilling should never be allowed here.
“To promote new oil drilling in the region most vulnerable to climate change impacts is misguided, especially at a time when most Americans are opposed to the idea. We need all hands-on deck to protect the health of our wildlife, people and planet. Our hope is that we return to a process guided by science, and that the incoming Administration will ensure permanent protection for the Arctic refuge.”