Urge the Trump Administration to Safeguard U.S. Arctic Waters From More Oil and Gas Leasing

America’s Arctic waters—supporting livelihoods and traditions practiced for thousands of years and marine mammals such as bowhead whale and walrus found nowhere else in the United States—are already under stress from a changing climate and increasing industrial activities. Now, the Trump administration is restarting the process to determine what ocean areas it will offer for oil and gas leasing. In order to balance current industrial pressure and maintain healthy ecosystems, the administration should not include new Arctic lease sales in the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Program.


The Arctic Ocean ecosystem is undergoing rapid change, and it is increasingly important to ensure that the ecosystem’s health is protected from additional stress. With over 180,000 acres currently leased for oil and gas in federal waters and ongoing oil production in both federal and state waters, there is no need for new lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas to be offered in the next five years.

The Northern Bering Sea includes some of the world’s most productive marine waters and one of Earth's largest migrations of marine mammals and seabirds. With no industry interest and little oil or gas potential, this ecologically and culturally significant area should not be included in the leasing program.

Bristol Bay is currently withdrawn from leasing consideration, and it should stay out of the new leasing program. Located in the Bering Sea, Bristol Bay is part of a world-class fishery that supplies more than 40 percent of America’s seafood catch and hosts the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run, making it a national treasure. The Bering Sea commercial fishery provides an estimated $2.5 billion annually to the economy.

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Message to Secretary Zinke

RE: BOEM 2017-0050

Dear Secretary Zinke:

[Your personal comment will go here.]

I write today asking that you not include the Arctic Ocean, Northern Bering Sea, or Bristol Bay planning areas in the 2019-24 Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program.

Much of the area you are considering for leasing overlaps with sensitive marine habitats that sustain wildlife and indigenous people, whose way of life is closely tied to healthy marine resources. Science shows that certain offshore areas—often those with durable physical or oceanographic attributes—make critically important contributions to the integrity and function of the larger ecosystem. Examples are long-established migration routes, foraging hot spots, subsistence use areas, rich seafloor habitat, lingering ice habitat, and areas where algae and phytoplankton thrive. The Bering Sea commercial fishery provides an estimated $2.5 billion annually to the economy. These places are too crucial to the health of the larger marine ecosystem to be put at risk.

These valuable waters of America’s Arctic, which are held in the public trust, should not be included in the national Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program for 2019-2024.


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