Environmental Initiatives

Media Inquiries

If you are a journalist and would like additional information, please visit the Media Contacts page.

Media Contacts

Subscribe to News Feeds

Pew offers news delivered to your desktop via RSS feed. Subscribing is easy. To learn more or get started, follow the link below.

Subscribe to News Feeds

For The Record

When Pew’s work is questioned or criticized we respond through letters to the editor or op-eds.

Read Pew's Responses

Pew Applauds Balanced Planning for National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Press Release

Learn more:

The Pew Environment Group issued the following statement today applauding Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement of a plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), located on Alaska’s North Slope.

“The secretary’s proposed action is an important step in the right direction for all Americans, including Alaska Natives, sportsmen, and other conservationists who want to balance energy exploration with wildlife protection in Alaska’s spectacular western Arctic,” said Ken Rait, director of Pew’s Western Lands Initiative. “This proposal would make millions of acres available for oil and gas leasing, while preserving irreplaceable habitat for the western Arctic caribou herd in the Utukok Uplands and other wildlife areas.”

“We support the administration’s approach to conserving important ecological and subsistence areas from oil and gas development both on and off shore,” said Eleanor Huffines, manager of Pew’s U.S. Arctic Program.  “Protecting Teshekpuk Lake, which is one of the most important goose-molting habitats in the circumpolar Arctic, as well as Kasegaluk Lagoon and other critical wildlife areas moves us toward a sustainable model for managing our natural resources in the Arctic environment.”

View Photos from the NPR-A:

Background on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Lying west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and roughly the size of Indiana, the nearly 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) supports a stunning diversity and abundance of wildlife. The Reserve is home to caribou herds, grizzly bears, wolves, and dense populations of peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and other nesting raptors. Offshore and along coastal areas are important habitats for seals, beluga whales, and polar bears. Rare yellow-billed loons, spectacled eiders, and millions of other migratory birds from the Pacific, Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic Flyways and from as far away as South America journey each year to the wetlands, ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers on the Reserve’s coastal plain.  The area has also sustained human communities for thousands of years and continues to supply the subsistence needs of Alaska Natives today.

Originally set aside by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 when the U.S. Navy was converting its fleet from coal to oil, the Reserve has been managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) since 1976 under a congressional mandate that energy exploration be conducted in a manner consistent with “maximum protection” of the environment, fish and wildlife, and historical or scenic values. Although the Reserve appropriately has a role in meeting America’s future energy needs, Congress has expressly recognized that high-value wildlife habitats in the region should be protected. Federal law states that the secretary of the interior “shall include or provide for such conditions, restrictions, and prohibitions as the Secretary deems necessary or appropriate to mitigate reasonably foreseeable and significantly adverse effects on the surface resources” of the Reserve.

Current Department of Interior Actions

A total of 1.5 million acres of the Reserve is now leased for oil and gas development, and President Obama has publicly committed to pursuing a policy of accelerated oil development leasing by offering annual lease sales in the Reserve while also protecting ecologically important and sensitive areas.

In July 2010, BLM began developing a first-ever comprehensive plan (called an Integrated Activity Plan, or IAP) to determine which areas within the NPR-A should be protected and which are appropriate for oil and gas development.

The BLM issued a Draft IAP Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on March 30 and concluded its public comment period on the document on June 15. Issues analyzed in the Draft IAP/EIS included oil and gas leasing; impacts of development, such as effects on caribou, birds, subsistence, and public health; climate change; and protection of threatened and endangered species.

Alternative B would identify the Reserve’s most critical wildlife habitat in five recognized Special Areas (Colville River, Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok River Uplands, Pearl Bay, and Kasegaluk Lagoon). It would also allow oil and gas leasing on 11 million acres of the Reserve, estimated to hold 235 million barrels of oil and 7.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.


Related News and Resources

  • Experience New Mexico's Rugged and Secluded Brokeoff Mountains

    • Other Resource
    • Apr 14, 2014
    The Brokeoff Mountains, 80,000 acres of rugged and remote land, lie in the southeast corner of New Mexico, 30 miles west of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. These mountains are an ecological hotbed of plant and animal species, located at the intersection of the Chihuahuan Desert, semidesert grasslands, and conifer woodlands. The region hosts a number of rare plants, the nesting home of several varieties of raptor, and the winter range for Rocky Mountain elk.


  • Why the Sage-Grouse Needs Protection

    • Other Resource
    • Apr 07, 2014
    Meet the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), known among wildlife watchers for the male’s elaborate courtship dance, one of the flashiest displays in nature.


Sign In

Member Sign In

Forgot Password?
Submit Not a Member? Join!

Forgot Password?

Send Password Not a Member? Join!

Change Password

(All Fields are required)
Send Message
Share this on: