Bold Peak. Chugach Mountains, Alaska

New Rules Protect Millions of Acres of Alaska’s Western Arctic from Future Oil Drilling

April 19, 2024 | Source: Earth Justice

What just happened: The Biden administration unveiled new, final regulations that will help preserve 13 million acres of ecologically sensitive lands inside the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, by increasing protections from oil and gas development. These regulations will completely prohibit any new oil-and-gas leasing for 10.6 million acres in the Reserve that have been designated as Special Areas.  

Why it matters: Oil and gas development has transformed some swaths of the Western Arctic, which includes the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, into floodlit industrial zones. Essential habitats have been carved up by drilling rigs, roads, airstrips, and mines. So far, this has been limited to a relatively small portion of this vast landscape. But the oil industry has its sights set on much more. These new protections will safeguard some of the most ecologically important areas from development, conserving habitat for migratory birds, polar bears, caribou, and other iconic Arctic species, while strengthening federal authority to protect precious landscapes like these.