Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: Biden Administration Protects Vulnerable Lands in America’s Arctic
Press Statement

STATEMENT: Biden Administration Protects Vulnerable Lands in America’s Arctic

Washington, D.C. — Today, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a final rule for the Western Arctic, known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which would add new protections for 13 million acres of the most sensitive lands. The largest stretch of intact public lands in the United States, this reserve provides important habitat for one of the world’s largest caribou herds and other wildlife, as well as subsistence resources for Alaska Native communities.

Also today, the BLM released its final environmental analysis identifying the agency’s “preferred alternative” that would reject the Ambler Access Project. This plan for a 211-mile private industrial road would have caused environmental and subsistence harms as it crossed hundreds of rivers and streams in remote Alaska wilderness.

In response, Drew McConville, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

These announcements are a win for Indigenous rights, a victory for public lands and waters, and a boost for combating climate change impacts in the Arctic. President Joe Biden is living up to his promise to safeguard our most vulnerable landscapes and ecosystems. Protecting these lands and reining in reckless drilling is especially important with the Arctic warming at nearly four times the speed of the rest of the planet.

On the Western Arctic:

This rule will protect millions of acres of lands critical to the health of wildlife populations, waterways, and Alaska Native communities. This is also a historic win for Indigenous rights. New safeguards for subsistence resources and sensitive habitat in the remote Arctic will honor the livelihoods and health of the people who have lived in these places for generations.

On Ambler Road:

The destructive road to nowhere through the Brooks Range and Gates of the Arctic National Park has faced united and widespread opposition. Rejecting it is the only reasonable choice. Today’s announcement rejects industry-driven misinformation and represents an important step toward fulfilling the Biden administration’s commitment to safeguarding lands, waters, wildlife, and subsistence resources in this vulnerable region.

Related resources:

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected].

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