Press Release

Flawed notice of Arctic Refuge lease sale violates rights and ignores public will

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Mason Cummings, TWS

Corporations who bid on Arctic Refuge leases should be ready for significant public pushback.

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Trump administration has announced it will auction off drilling rights in the refuge on Jan. 6, 2021. Advocates raised concerns about the decision to move forward with the lease sale even as the Department of Interior concurrently reviews a seismic application and conducts a public comment period on what parcels should even be nominated for leasing. They noted that this is a continuation of the administration’s efforts to subvert public input and rush full steam ahead on drilling in the Arctic Refuge before President-elect Biden enters office. 

Karlin Itchoak, Alaska state director for The Wilderness Society, issued the following statement in response to the notice of lease sale: 

“Today’s notice of lease sale by the Trump administration is harmful on multiple levels, which is why oil companies would be wise to not participate in the sale. 

“This announcement ignores the human rights of the Gwich’in and Iñupiat peoples who have relied on and protected the lands of the refuge since time immemorial. It ignores the nearly 70 percent of people across the United States who oppose drilling in the refuge. It puts the promise of corporate profits ahead of public interest and will no doubt exacerbate the climate crisis when we should instead be investing in renewable energy. And it is an effort to fast-track a process before President-elect Biden, who supports protecting the Arctic Refuge, can enter office. 

“This is disappointing, though not surprising, given the flawed environmental reviews from this administration. We are committed to continue to fight alongside Indigenous leaders who oppose drilling in the refuge and urge oil companies who might consider bidding to think twice before risking their reputation and our shared future.” 


Tim Woody,, 907-223-2443

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire people to care for our 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.