Attorney General Becerra Urges Court to Block Trump Administration from Moving Forward with Lease Sale in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief in support of a motion to block the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Bureau) from moving forward with its plan to lease more than one million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain (Coastal Plain). Attorney General Becerra, as part of a similar coalition, is currently in court challenging the Bureau’s decision to move forward with a leasing program based on a flawed Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision. In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that the Bureau’s rush to sell and issue leases while litigation is ongoing tramples on our nation’s core conservation values.

“With just under a month left in office, the Trump Administration is recklessly moving to jam through a lease sale in one of the last true pristine wilderness areas in the United States,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This lease sale, offered without a meaningful opportunity for public comment, will forever alter the Coastal Plain and should not move forward without adequate environmental review. We urge the court to block the Bureau's unlawful efforts while litigation over the proposed leasing program and its environmental review is ongoing.”

The development of the Coastal Plain’s oil and gas resources will result in significant greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, expanding oil and gas development on this protected land threatens a number of iconic species supported by the Coastal Plain, including polar bears, wolves, eagles, migratory birds from all seven continents, and a herd of 200,000 Porcupine caribou. Any development of the Coastal Plain region will carry significant repercussions, including direct impacts on the region’s wildlife and water resources and indirect global climate-change impacts caused by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska should grant a preliminary injunction because:

  • The Bureau’s unlawful conduct undermines the national interest in conserving the Coastal Plain;
  • Given the environmental significance of the Coastal Plain and the harms that will flow from the lease sale, halting lease issuance while litigation is ongoing will serve the public interest; and
  • The balance of hardships tips strongly in favor of a preliminary injunction, as maintaining the status quo until this court conducts a full review on the merits will not cause significant harm to the Bureau.

Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont in filing the brief.

A copy of the brief can be found here.

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