Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, October 10, 2017

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (510) 844-7137,

Conservationists Headed to Anchorage Hearing on Arctic Offshore Oil Project

Hilcorp's Liberty Project Risks Major Oil Spill in Polar Bear, Whale Habitat 

ANCHORAGE— The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups concerned about offshore Arctic oil drilling will testify at today’s federal hearing in Anchorage on the Hilcorp Alaska’s proposed Liberty project. If approved, Liberty would be the first oil development project in federal Arctic waters.

Before the hearing Center staff holding a large “No Arctic Drilling” banner will be joined by Frostpaw the polar bear to highlight how the project threatens polar bears, bowhead whales and other animals in the region protected by the Endangered Species Act.  

This is the last in a series of five public hearings in Alaska that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding on the project’s “draft environmental impact statement.” Liberty would involve construction and operation of a 9.3-acre artificial island with a 24-acre footprint in about 20 feet of water and a 5.6-mile underwater pipeline in the Beaufort Sea to send the oil into onshore pipelines. Oil drilling and production from the artificial island would last for decades.

“This risky project would never get built if its dangers were properly studied. The Liberty project is an accident waiting to happen,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney with the Center. “We’re here today to speak for the polar bears, whales and coastal communities that Hilcorp and the Trump administration are threatening.”

Today’s hearing is from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, 600 W. 7th St., Anchorage. Details are at

The project’s environmental analysis predicts the project will cause at least 70 oil spills during its estimated 25-year lifetime. And if a blowout occurs, the project could result in a catastrophic spill of up to 4.6 million barrels of oil, about the same volume as the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Among the threats to Liberty outlined in project documents are land subsidence due to permafrost thaw and deep gouges from the sea ice that covers the area for most of the year. The environmental study said the project will harm fish, marine mammals, coastal birds and air and water quality.

For example, the review foun that construction of the project could contribute to the injury and death of polar bears. The project would also destroy parts of the Boulder Patch, a unique series of underwater boulders and cobbles that supports the richest and most biologically diverse communities of aquatic life in the Beaufort Sea.

Hilcorp expects to extract about 167 million barrels of oil from the Liberty project. Drilling for and consuming that oil would result in about 64.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas pollution being emitted into the atmosphere, worsening climate change.

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.

More press releases