The following statement was issued today from WCS President and CEO Dr. Cristián Samper:

“The Administration is proposing to move another step forward in the process of oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Our position on this is simple and unchanged since our support of the first assessments of the Arctic Refuge in the 1950s: No oil and gas development should occur in one of America’s most unspoiled, treasured landscapes. This is a unique and unparalleled part of the United States heritage, one that reflects our unique status as an Arctic country.

“The Administration is rushing toward development in this biologically special place. This is not fair to wildlife that is currently facing significant challenges as they adapt to the impacts of climate change or to the local communities who have relied upon this area to support their food and cultural security for thousands of years.

“Long ago expedition findings of vibrant biodiversity, including caribou, muskoxen, wolverines, Arctic foxes, lemmings, gyrfalcons, ptarmigans, and a vast internationally-relevant assemblage of migratory birds, prompted the Department of the Interior under the Eisenhower Administration to set aside this dramatic landscape in 1960.

“As an organization that has conducted research in the Arctic Refuge for 50 years, our science shows that this special place contains rare biodiversity that will be damaged by oil and gas drilling.”