Chair Grijalva, Reps. Huffman & Lowenthal to BLM: Protect the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska

Washington, D.C.- Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) wrote to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Deputy Director Brian Steed today urging him to protect Special Areas and the remarkable ecological values in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

The National Petroleum Reserve contains extraordinary wildlife, habitat, and subsistence resources, including the Teshekpuk Lake, the most ecologically rich wetlands in the circumpolar Arctic, and the Utukok Uplands area, which provides important resources for communities across northern and western Alaska. The BLM effort to expand drilling in the Reserve does not appear to have been put on hold despite the current government shutdown.

“We write to express serious concerns with the Bureau of Land Management’s notice of intent to revise the Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve), the largest contiguous unit of public land left in our country,” wrote the lawmakers in today’s letter. “Revising the IAP barely six years after it was completed is entirely unnecessary, and appears to be driven by the desire to hand over even more of America’s public lands to oil companies, while ignoring the impacts that would have to the world’s climate, Alaska’s indigenous populations, and the clean air, lands, and waters that sustain some of the most extraordinary fish and wildlife populations left in North America.”

The existing IAP was based on extensive science and broad public review and struck a balance between protection and development. The Trump administration’s “energy dominance” rhetoric undermines the critical protections that are needed for wildlife and sensitive areas in the Western Arctic.

“If BLM proceeds with revising the IAP, we expect that BLM will adhere to its mandates to protect Special Areas and the remarkable ecological values in the Reserve,” concluded the lawmakers in today’s letter.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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