WWF Statement on Arctic Refuge Drilling Plans

In response to the Bureau of Land Mangement’s Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement regarding oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Steve MacLean, managing director, Arctic program:

“This is a monumental step in the right direction. We must continue to do all we can to permanently protect the Arctic Refuge from harmful oil and gas development. Science is warning us that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground, greenhouse gas emissions are now 50% higher than pre-industrial levels. We appreciate the Biden Administration's ongoing efforts to support long-term protection of America’s Arctic: a vital ecosystem essential to the well-being of wildlife, communities and our entire planet.

“The refuge supports an extraordinary abundance of wildlife, from caribou to muskox to denning polar bears and is home to Indigenous communities whose ancient traditions are deeply rooted to the land and sea. The Porcupine Caribou Herd birth their calves here – a reliable source of sustenance for the Gwich’in and Inupiat people for thousands of years. Disturbances to the caribou’s habitat would be devastating to both wildlife and local communities.

“Unsustainable and risky development that will exacerbate climate change impacts is not the answer. Economic analysis also indicates that refuge leases are not profitable.

“Dependence on oil and gas revenue has to change. Instead of looking for additional lease opportunities, we should be looking for economically viable, alternative livelihood solutions that will support local communities and transition away from fossil fuels and new drilling.”