Susan Culliney, Policy Director, Audubon Alaska,

Rebecca Sentner, Communications Manager, Audubon Alaska,, 907-276-7034

ANCHORAGE, AK—Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke today signed a Secretarial Order re-opening a planning process for oil and gas leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPRA), and calling for a review of the petroleum geology in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain, announcing that Alaska is “open for business.” Migratory birds from across the nation and globe rely on Alaska’s Arctic coastal plain, including the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge and Teshekpuk Lake in the NPRA, for their nesting grounds.

The agency plan currently operating in the NPRA was finalized in 2013, and allows for the development of 72 percent of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the Reserve. The 2013 plan also provides balance to the Reserve’s biological value by recognizing and designating wildlife hotspots, including the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. The 1976 statute governing the NPRA requires that any petroleum development “assure the maximum protection” of surface values such as “subsistence, recreational, fish and wildlife, or historical or scenic value” in designated special areas like Teshekpuk Lake. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is statutorily protected from energy development, and an act of Congress would be required to open Refuge to oil and gas activities.

“A balanced approach in the NPRA and protecting the Arctic Refuge are two main pillars of responsible Arctic management,” said Nils Warnock, Audubon Alaska’s Executive Director. “The Secretary calls for greater balance but ignores the balance already achieved in the 2013 NPRA plan, which came after lengthy consideration of many perspectives and the best available science. Throwing open the floodgates to oil development in the Arctic is bad for birds and bad for balance.”

Helpful Links

  • PDF map of wildlife values and special areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska:


Since 1977, Audubon Alaska's mission is to conserve the spectacular natural ecosystems of the state, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Audubon Alaska uses science to identify conservation priorities and support conservation actions and policies, with an emphasis on public lands and waters. Audubon Alaska is a state office of the National Audubon Society. Learn more at and @AudubonAlaska1.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at and @audubonsociety.

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