Court Orders No Drilling in Arctic Wetlands

Court Orders No Drilling in Arctic Wetlands

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caribouThirteen percent of public land, critical to caribou and other wildlife, will remain closed to drilling. A federal judge in Alaska last week ordered the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to keep 590,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land in northwest Alaska off-limits to oil and gas drilling. The acreage falls within what the U.S. government has dubbed the National Petroleum Reserve…

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The court order revokes a BLM plan that would have opened up an area around Teshekpuk Lake, which includes some of the most important wetlands in the Arctic. 45,000 local caribou bear their calves and seek relief from insects near the lake, and it is a key summer molting and nesting site for many of North America’s migratory ducks, geese, swans, loons and other birds. Additionally, Alaska Natives rely on the area for subsistence fishing and hunting, especially caribou hunts.

"The court today sided with the scientists, sportsmen and conservation groups who agree we should protect the last 13 percent of the most sensitive habitat in the Western Arctic’s Northeast area. Eighty-seven percent of it is already open to drilling. The court order stops the Bureau of Land Management from handing all of it over to the oil companies. BLM is supposed to balance all values of our public lands. Giving 100 percent to the oil industry is not what anyone would call ‘balanced,’ " said Natural Resources Defense Council‘s Alaska Project Director, Chuck Clusen.

"We can drill every last acre of wilderness and it won’t make us any more secure. We need to wean ourselves off of oil." (NRDC)

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