Advocacy Report July 2020

By David Raskin, Friends Board President

Except for the release of the proposed regulations for the Kenai Refuge, it has been relatively quiet in terms of new developments.

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge – Regulations

The proposed Kenai Refuge public use, hunting, and trapping regulations and the environmental assessment were released with an August 10 deadline for comments. Please see this post for detailed information about this critical issue and how to submit comments. This is a very important issue that not only affects the Kenai Refuge but could set undesirable precedents that could negatively impact other refuges.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

We are still waiting for the Secretary of Interior to issue the Record of Decision (ROD). The biological issues and uncertainty of a successful lease sale may be causing rethinking at DOI. However, there has been no news to date.    

The Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign (ARDC) lobbyists were again successful in their efforts to have minimum bid language included in the House Interior Appropriations bill. The language basically requires them to meet the stated minimum for how much they need to raise for a lease sale. If they do not achieve the minimum bids, they cannot use the funds. This presents a major problem for drilling proponents to have a successful lease sale, and we owe a big thank you to Representative Betty McCollum for shepherding this critical amendment through her committee. 

The ARDC campaign’s highly successful meetings with executives of oil companies and financial institutions concerning the dangers of Arctic drilling and the financial risks of supporting such efforts have now focused on pressuring oil and gas development companies to join the major financial institutions in refusing to fund oil development in the arctic.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

On June 1, the Federal District Court issued a resounding defeat to the proponents of the Izembek land exchange by nullifying the pending land exchange with King Cove. This decision hopefully puts an end to almost four decades of unsuccessful attempts to invade the Izembek Wilderness. Any new attempt to resurrect the road would require an act of Congress and a signature by the president. Trustees for Alaska and all of our conservation partners remain vigilant for any attempts by the Alaska delegation to have a rider added to other legislation.