WASHINGTON (April 19, 2018) – The following statement was issued today from WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper:

“The Administration has announced its intent to begin the process of oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Our position on this is very simple and unchanged since our support of the first assessments of the Arctic Refuge in the 1950s: WCS remains adamant that no oil and gas development should occur in one of America’s most unspoiled, treasured landscapes. This is a unique and unparalleled part of the United States heritage.

“The Administration is launching a process that will short-circuit necessary environmental reviews in a place that is biologically special. It is not fair to wildlife and it is not fair to the local communities who have relied upon this area to support their food and cultural security for thousands of years.

“Long ago expedition findings of vibrant biodiversity, including caribou, muskoxen, wolverines, Arctic foxes, lemmings, gyrfalcons, ptarmigans, and a vast internationally-relevant assemblage of migratory birds, prompted the Department of the Interior under the Eisenhower Administration to set aside this dramatic landscape in 1960.

“As an organization that has conducted research in the Arctic Refuge for 50 years, our science shows that this special place contains rare biodiversity that will be damaged by oil and gas drilling.”