Beaufort Sea, Romanzof mountains, Brooks Range. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photo Credit: Patrick J. Endres/Getty Images

AnimalsEnvironment USA4. June 2024

Good News for Bears and Reindeer: No More New Oil and Gas Deals Here

Federal authorities have adopted restrictions on new oil and gas leasing in Alaska, the United States, thus protecting more than 5 million hectares of wildlife territory to help save endangered species like caribou and polar bears.

“This huge, wild place will be able to remain wild,” exclaims Ellen Montgomery of Environment America Research & Policy Center.

The Biden administration is closing almost half, or around 5.3 million hectares, of a federal petroleum reserve to new oil and gas leasing. Moreover, a proposed 338-kilometer road in Alaska’s northwest part has been rejected to allow the mining of critical mineral deposits like copper, cobalt, zinc, silver, and gold. Alaska’s “majestic and rugged lands and waters are among the most remarkable and healthy landscapes in the world” and are critical to Alaska Native communities and “demand our protection,” states Joe Biden, the president of the United States. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – located some 160 kilometres west of the petroleum reserve – is home to caribou and polar bears and is the habitat of millions of migrating birds. Adopting such restrictions contributes to the survival of the fragile biodiversity and ecosystem. It is an apparent attempt to curb the rapidly changing conditions in the Arctic due to climate change, like melting permafrost and changes in plant life and wildlife corridors.

Fast Company

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