Sign on to public comment letter for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Arctic Refuge is one of the last untouched pristine places in our country and needs to be protected now and for future generations. This irreplaceable landscape is a national treasure and we have a moral obligation to protect this unique ecosystem. The American people understand this yet, despite overwhelmingly public opposition, the current administration is moving forward with efforts to drill in the Arctic Refuge. We cannot allow this.

Currently, the administration has a public comment period seeking input on their current environmental impact statement. This plan is insufficiently put together, lacks necessary input from front line communities and scientists. We need a strong showing of support from Americans all across the country to stand up against these underhanded and backdoor attempts to allowing drilling in this national treasure. As part of that effort, we have a group sign-on letter to help demonstrate national support. Please add your organization to this letter and add your voice to the millions of Americans who want to see the Arctic Refuge protected.

This letter is open to businesses, organizations, community groups (non-individuals) who want to join the call for the Arctic Refuge to remain free from oil and gas development

DEADLINE: MARCH 11, 2019

LETTER TEXT:
Acting Sec. Bernhardt —

On behalf of our millions of members across the country, we the undersigned are using our voice to call for protection of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and to call attention to the grave deficiencies of the Bureau of Land Management’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for an oil and gas leasing program for the Coastal Plain. Our businesses and organizations represent a broad and diverse constituency that deeply believe the Arctic Refuge deserves a robust and fair environmental review and that oil and gas activities on the Coastal Plain will cause irreparable harm to the crown jewel of our nation’s Refuge system. BLM fails to adequately analyze how oil and gas development would harm polar bears, subsistence, water resources, and caribou

The draft EIS is so deficient that it must be substantially revised and reissued for public review and comment. The rushed process that the agency is pursuing is incompatible with protecting the subsistence needs of the Gwich’in people and the fragile environment of the Coastal Plain.

The Coastal Plain is a sacred landscape to the Gwich’in people who are culturally and spiritually connected to the Porcupine Caribou Herd and depend on the caribou for sustenance. Hundreds of thousands of caribou migrate to the Coastal Plain every year to calve and rear newborns on the nutrient-rich grounds. Despite acknowledging that oil and gas activities may impact caribou, the BLM does not address the far-reaching effects of development on the herd and incorrectly concludes that subsistence resources for the Gwich’in will not be impacted. The cultural and spiritual importance of the Coastal Plain cannot be overstated, yet this entire process has cast aside the traditional knowledge and human rights of the Gwich’in.

The Arctic Refuge is home to some of the most stunning populations of wildlife in the world. In addition to the Porcupine Caribou herd, polar bears, musk oxen and hundreds of species of migratory birds make their way to the Coastal Plain for its rich and varied ecosystems and excellent denning, nesting, and forage grounds. The Refuge supports the highest density of land denning for polar bears, as melting sea ice forces bears inland. While the BLM acknowledges the importance of the Coastal Plain to wildlife, the draft EIS lacks sufficient analysis on the extent of impacts oil and gas activities would have on the animals that depend on the Refuge.

Nowhere are the impacts of climate change felt more acutely than the Arctic, which is warming at more than double the rate of the rest of the country. As villages erode, permafrost melt weakens infrastructure, and food sources disappear, the draft EIS fails to assess how expanding fossil fuel development could exacerbate the impacts of climate change already at the front door of Arctic communities.

The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s most iconic wild areas and it deserves the most stringent levels of environmental review and analysis. Yet from the very beginning, the rush to lease the Refuge has come at the expense of protecting the values that make the Arctic Refuge so special. The draft EIS analysis is deficient. It does not contain the required analysis nor the necessary mitigation measures to protect the values and resources of the Coastal Plain. We are confident that a thorough and robust review of the impacts of oil and gas activities would demonstrate that an oil and gas program is simply incompatible and inconsistent with protecting wildlife, habitat, subsistence, and the human rights of the Gwich’in. We cannot allow this process to continue and risk all the Refuge has to offer.

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