The vast majority of confirmed whale entanglements involved humpback whales.
The BLM says the decision still leaves nearly 12 million acres available for oil and gas leasing. That’s slightly more than 50% of the NPR-A. The Trump administration had wanted closer to 80% open to drilling.
Conoco had planned to break ground at the gravel mine site on Feb. 12.
The Obama administration listed the Arctic ringed seal under the Endangered Species Act in 2012, citing the effects of climate change on the ringed seal’s sea ice habitat.
Two lawsuits filed Monday argue that the BLM’s environmental review process failed to follow numerous laws meant to protect wildlife, land, water and people.
The Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute challenged the Endangered Species Act listing decision.
It’s the first oil exploration in Arctic federal waters since Shell abandoned its campaign in 2015. The company, Eni, aims to begin drilling in December.
More than 30 times this year, the federal government has received reports of whales tangled in fishing gear along the West Coast. Sometimes the whales manage to wriggle free. Other times you see heart-rending pictures on the news or a rescue mission.