Success Story 2024

National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Alaska Wilderness
Photo: Dave Shreffler
National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska
Alaska Wilderness League Audubon Alaska
13 million acres protected

The nearly 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska supports a stunning diversity and abundance of wildlife. More than 400,000 caribou migrate to their calving grounds in the Reserve and iconic marine mammals such as polar bear, walrus, beluga whale, and several species of ice-dependent seals inhabit the coastline. On April 19, 2024, the Biden Administration officially restricted oil and gas leasing on 13 million acres in this landscape.

The National Petroleum Reserve was created almost a century ago to provide emergency oil resources for the Navy. However, whether the land is used for extractive or conservation purposes has been the source of ongoing debate. Climate change and development have intensified impacts on the ecosystem in the Arctic, causing negative changes in biodiversity and melting permafrost.

The administration’s most recent decision does not impact existing leases in the reserve, which the Bureau of Land Management says are in areas of high development potential. Restrictions on future leasing and development will exist in areas determined to have lower development potential and that are designated as special for their wildlife, subsistence, and other ecological values. The agency will also regularly evaluate whether new special areas should be added.

TCA has awarded $120,000 in grants to Alaska Wilderness League and Audubon Alaska in support of protecting the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.