The scoping period for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for leasing the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ended on June 19. Scoping was the first step in public engagement required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with carrying out the leasing program required by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress last December.
About 700,000 people submitted comments supporting continued Refuge protection, speaking out against the Trump administration’s efforts to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil leasing and development.
During scoping, groups, organizations, and individuals informed BLM of our concerns, relevant issues, studies needed, data gaps, and potential impacts of oil and gas activities that they must consider in developing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The next comment period, following the release of the EIS, will address whether or not they have adequately done as requested. The Department of Interior claims that they will release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement by the last quarter of 2018. The NEPA process has been abbreviated to one year by secretarial order, hence this shortened drafting period. (For detailed background on the scoping process, click here. For information on talking points and considerations, click here.)
What can you do in the meantime?
- Continue to speak out to your friends, families, and communities about the Arctic Refuge. Write letters to the editor of your local paper.
- Support organizations working to protect the Arctic Refuge.
- Hold our elected officials accountable. This administration’s attack on public lands is not limited to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and their systemic dismantling of environmental regulations will impact us all.
- Keep in touch. Along with our partner organizations, we will continue working for a robust public process at every step of the way.