Last month, President Trump signed two Executive Orders that put at risk vast areas of our nation’s lands and waters. The first calls for a review of all National Monuments created in the last 20 years. The second aims to expand offshore oil drilling, including opening up large swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to drilling.
The Executive Order on national monuments directs the Department of the Interior to review all monument designations made since 1996, and make recommendations as to which monuments should be rescinded, resized, or modified. These national monuments have protected millions of acres of bird habitat and public lands and waters that benefit people and communities. From spectacular places in the Southwest like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, to the Northeast where the winter habitat for Atlantic Puffins was protected by the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, birds and people depend on the vital protections afforded by these monuments.
Three days later, another Executive Order paved the way for the expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling. The order lifts President Obama’s ban on drilling in most of the Arctic Ocean and key areas of the Atlantic Ocean. It also restarts a planning process by the Department of the Interior that could lead to new areas opened for oil and gas leasing. Millions of birds migrate and nest across these regions and are highly vulnerable to oil spills. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the deaths of an estimated one million birds. In the Arctic Ocean, there is no capacity to clean up an oil spill, and vital stretches of the Arctic ecosystem would be at risk. Please visit Audubon Alaska's detailed explanation of how the Executive Order impacts the Arctic Ocean for more information and to take action.
Both of these Executive Orders will provide opportunities for public input as these processes move forward. Be on the lookout more chances to take action with Audubon, beginning with the public comment period on National Monument review, which opens May 12.