Action tosses out 2020 effort to open 82% of the nation’s largest unit of public land to oil and gas leasing
Washington, D.C.

The Biden administration released a new Record of Decision for the Integrated Activity Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska today, reinstating protections that were pulled back by the Trump administration. That 2020 Trump plan would have dramatically expanded oil and gas leasing, along with subsequent industrialization and pollution, in the western Arctic. 

“While we are grateful to the Biden administration for appropriately abandoning the reckless 2020 plan for the Reserve, the Western Arctic remains vulnerable to oil exploitation,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, director of Defenders of Wildlife’s Alaska Program. “We need a commitment to climate solutions and a way forward that protects the remote, fragile wildlife habitat of the Reserve.”

Caribou on tundra in NPR-A
Bob Wick/BLM

Federal law requires the Bureau of Land Management to protect the incredible fish and wildlife resources of the Reserve while also implementing an oil and gas leasing program. The current management plan for the area, known as an Integrated Activity Plan (IAP), balances these dual goals by permitting oil and gas development on over 11 million acres — a little over half of the Reserve — while restricting development in many of the most important areas for wildlife.

Today’s action restores protections from the previous 2013 plan, including for designated special areas, like the Colville River area and Teshekpuk Lake. This region — one of the largest wetlands complexes in the circumpolar Arctic — provides habitat for a multitude of birds and wildlife, including up to 100,000 molting geese of several species, over half a million shorebirds, high densities of loons and eiders, denning polar bears, and tens of thousands of caribou in the Teshekpuk Caribou Herd. It is vital for wildlife and globally significant to biodiversity.

Defenders of Wildlife and other groups were represented by Trustees for Alaska in several lawsuits filed over the 2020 plan, charging the Interior Department with violating multiple laws. 

For over 75 years, Defenders of Wildlife has remained dedicated to protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come. To learn more, please visit or follow us on X @Defenders.


Media Contact

Senior Vice President, External Affairs


Northern Lights Over Brooks Range Alaska
Caribou in Denali


Blackfeet Nation Birch Creek - hay bails in foreground
Washington, DC

Defenders Supports New Bill Expanding Investments in Soil Health and Wildlife Habitat on Private Land

Defenders of Wildlife today announced its support for H.R. 8754 introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA). If passed, the Saving Our Interconnected Lives (SOIL) Act will amend the Farm Bill to encourage agricultural producers to voluntarily conserve soil and wildlife habitat on their land by prioritizing applications for projects that would address both concerns under the Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
2010.12.27 - Florida Manatee - Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge - Florida - Keith Ramos - USFWS
Washington, DC

Defenders Opposes “Breathtakingly Awful” Attempt to Gut Endangered Species Act with Appalling Rewrite

Defenders of Wildlife opposes one of the worst-ever attempts to gut the Endangered Species Act, the “ESA Amendments Act of 2024.” Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, the draft bill being heard today in the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries demolishes many of the core tenets of the landmark conservation bill, warps its foundational reliance on best available science and increases the potential for political interference.