Protect Our Public Lands

Verbal public comment of Ellen Montgomery on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain drilling program

USFWS/Lisa Hupp | Public Domain

The following is a verbal public comment delivered by public lands campaign director, Ellen Montgomery at a virtual public hearing on the Coastal Plain Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement”


My name is Ellen Montgomery and I’m the public lands campaign director for Environment America.

Thank you to staff with the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service for this opportunity to comment.

Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most special places on Earth. From the Brooks Range to the coastal plain, the landscape is home to polar bear mothers and cubs, the 200,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd, and millions of migratory birds from all 50 states and six continents. Drilling on the coastal plain would be devastating to this wild refuge — from driving away wildlife and leaving scars across the landscape to worsening the climate crisis, which is warming the Arctic twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth. 

Thank you to President Biden and the administration for canceling the remaining leases in the refuge. And thank you for revisiting the coastal plain leasing program and conducting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

I am concerned that all of the Alternatives proposed would harm the caribou and other species that depend on the coastal plain. I urge both agencies to do everything in your power to protect the caribou, polar bears and other wildlife that depend on this area. The construction, infrastructure and pollution that comes with drilling threatens the tundra and the animals that live there. Oil and gas drilling simply doesn’t belong in a wildlife refuge, and especially not this arctic treasure.

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