New York, Aug. 17, 2020 – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) President and CEO Cristián Samper has issued the following statement today:

“At WCS, we stand strongly against the Administration’s announcement to approve an oil leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Oil and gas drilling in one of our last remaining wilderness areas is a direct hit against our country’s natural heritage. We ask Congress to take action to stop this development.

“WCS science for more than 50 years has clearly shown that Arctic Refuge contains rare biodiversity that will be damaged by oil and gas development, including polar bears, caribou, muskoxen, wolverines, Arctic foxes, lemmings, gyrfalcons, ptarmigans, and a vast internationally-relevant assemblage of migratory birds. Scientists have documented in this 31,000 square miles of wilderness more than 700 kinds of plants and a multitude of different species: 200 bird, 47 mammal and 42 fish species. As nature in this pristine area already faces the effects of the climate crisis, we have an obligation as stewards of the environment to identify and arrest those cumulative effects that will be brought on by oil and gas development.

“We can’t be shortsighted about opening up the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development and forever lose this natural treasure of the United States.” 

Additional Background:

2018 statement from WCS: WCS: No Oil and Gas Development Should be Allowed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

2017 New York Times Op-Ed: Protect Alaska’s Last Great Wilderness

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