Environment America joins preliminary injunction effort to stop lease sales in Arctic Refuge

Media Contacts

Unless stopped, the Trump administration’s rushed process could open the refuge to permanently damaging activity

Environment America

ANCHORAGE — In response to a rushed attempt by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lease tracts in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, Environment America joined the Gwich’in Steering Committee and 11 other groups in a legal effort to protect this important and iconic land. Specifically, the organizations filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska Tuesday for a preliminary injunction to stop the BLM from handing out oil drilling leases for the Arctic’s coastal plain. The injunction request also calls for a halt to authorizing seismic exploration activities.

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a vast, seemingly endless land where time slows down. In contrast, the Trump team is wildly racing the clock in an attempt to open this splendor to drilling,” said Environment America Public Lands Campaign Director Ellen Montgomery. “We hope the courts put a halt to the administration’s mad dash, starting with an injunction against new leasing.”

The BLM lease sale was announced part-way through a 30-day comment period on the “call for nominations.” During this period, companies and members of the public are supposed to be able to provide input to BLM. The sale is also scheduled to happen before several other pieces of the normal process conclude, including two additional comment periods on the effects of seismic testing on the environment and on how the testing would directly affect polar bears.

“The outgoing administration’s attempt to sell-off sacred lands in the last throes of its term is an act of violence toward the Gwich’in people, our way of life, and our survival,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “Today we asked the court to stop this violation of human rights and desecration of sacred lands. Tomorrow, and the day after that, and an infinite number of days after that, we will fight as our ancestors did to protect the lands that nourish the Porcupine caribou herd and our people.”

The motion asks the court to rule on the injunction request by Jan. 6, which is the day the federal government has planned to sell these leases.

Law firm Trustees for Alaska represents 13 clients in the lawsuit: Gwich’in Steering Committee, Alaska Wilderness League, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society-Yukon Chapter, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, National Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and Wilderness Watch.



Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.