Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 5, 2017

Contact:  Kristen Monsell, (914) 806-3467,

Trump Administration Holds Largest-ever Oil-lease Sale in Alaska's Arctic Reserve

Oil Industry Bids on 10.3 Million Acres to Be Opened Wednesday

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— Oil companies submitted lease bids on Monday for the largest oil-lease sale ever offered in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. Bids will be opened on Wednesday. The Trump administration offered all available land in the reserve: 900 tracts over 10.3 million acres in what is now an unspoiled wilderness teeming with caribou, grizzly bears and migratory birds. The reserve is the single-largest parcel of public land in the United States, and larger than 12 states.

“Trump is auctioning off our wildlife and a livable climate to the highest bidders. It’s disgusting,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “North Alaska is the country’s last frontier, and he’s letting the oil industry suck the life out of it.”

Last year’s lease sale of lands in the reserve, held the month after Trump was elected president, was the largest in more than a decade, with 457,648 acres going for $18.8 million. The bids were larger than officials or analysts had expected, partly driven by hopes Trump would expedite oil production.  

Trump has abandoned the country’s commitment to work with other nations to address climate change, gutted environmental regulations, and called for the vast expansion of offshore oil drilling. In October his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the largest fossil fuel lease offering in U.S. history: 76.9 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, scheduled to be auctioned off in March 2018.

“Future generations will see this as a pivotal moment in human history. We can either let greed, ignorance and short-term thinking doom our grandchildren to climate chaos or we can fight back and try to protect these wild places and avert disaster,” Monsell said. “That choice is ours, but it’s a choice we need to act on quickly.”

The state of Alaska is also offering leases in the Beaufort Sea, home to polar bears and bowhead whales, and the North Slope this week. The state lease bids are scheduled to be opened Wednesday at 9 a.m. and the federal bids at 1 p.m., both in downtown Anchorage.        

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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