Press Release

Court allows Arctic Refuge lease sale despite deeply flawed process

The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the birthing ground of the famed Porcupine Caribou Herd

The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the birthing ground of the famed Porcupine Caribou Herd

Credit: Peter Mather.

Federal judge denies request for preliminary injunction to prevent issuing of leases and winter seismic work in the Arctic Refuge

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason today denied a request by the Gwich’in Steering Committee and 12 allied groups—including The Wilderness Society—for a preliminary injunction to prevent the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from issuing any oil and gas leases sold in the Jan. 6 sale of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain. While the court found that leasing itself does not pose imminent harm, it did not rule on seismic and other on-the-ground activities, leaving the door open for future legal actions. 

In response, The Wilderness Society released the following statement from its Alaska state director, Karlin Itchoak:

“We are disappointed that the court’s decision allows the Trump administration to move forward with its reckless effort to trample the human rights of the Gwich’in and Iñupiat people and destroy the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. The administration is turning a blind eye to those who have occupied and stewarded these lands for thousands of years. This lease sale is opposed by the majority of people across the nation.

“The administration is blatantly rushing the process of holding a lease sale to secure leases for the oil industry before Inauguration Day. No lease sale should be held for lands that are sacred to the Gwich’in. It’s wrong for Indigenous rights, it’s wrong for our climate, and it’s wrong for America.

“We will continue to fight in court and elsewhere to ensure the Arctic Refuge is protected for generations to come. We’ll do so by working closely with Alaska Native peoples to identify a feasible long-term plan for management of the refuge that doesn’t contribute to the climate crisis, allows for economic development and preserves the coastal plain for generations to come.”  

Read the court’s decision here.

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization uniting people to care for America’s wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 111 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.      

Edit Ruano, [email protected], 530-305-9427