BREAKING: Arctic Refuge Spared From Destructive Seismic Testing for the Winter


Today, officials with the Department of the Interior confirmed that destructive seismic testing will not take place in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this winter.

SAExploration, the only company to  apply to conduct this activity, has faced significant public opposition to their plans. More than 250,000 people have sent emails and called SAExploration’s offices and executive board urging them to drop their proposal and stay out of the delicate coastal plain. Earlier this month, Indigenous advocates led by the Gwich’in Nation hand-delivered boxes containing 100,000 of those letters to the company’s office in Houston.

One of the world’s last intact ecosystems, the Arctic Refuge is one of the few places in the United States that has never been developed or industrialized. Seismic exploration in the coastal plain -- considered the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge and sacred to the Gwich’in people -- would bring industrial vehicles and equipment to this sensitive and pristine area, threatening wildlife including denning mother and baby polar bears, and leaving permanent scars on the landscape. Since Congressional Republicans inserted a provision opening up the Arctic Refuge for drilling into the 2017 tax bill, the Trump administration has pushed to sell off the sensitive coastal plain on an accelerated schedule.

“Once again, the strength of communities across the country have shown that the Trump administration is no match for their power,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Any oil company foolish enough to ignore the writing on the wall and pursue leasing in the Arctic Refuge will be pursuing a risky investment and drawing the condemnation of both the American public and the financial industry. This is a major victory in the fight to protect this special and sacred place, and we will not back down until it is permanently protected.”

The overwhelming majority of Americans do not want to see drilling in the Arctic Refuge, and the financial sector is taking notice. This month, two major international financial institutions have announced new policies rejecting financing for drilling or exploration there.

“The coastal plain is sacred to the Gwich’in people and critical to our food security and way of life. It is no place for heavy machinery and destructive seismic testing,” said Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “When we stand together we have the will to stop the destruction of the Arctic Refuge, and we won’t give up until it’s protected for good.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit