Alaska Environment: Don’t Drill In Cook Inlet

As the potential possibility of opening up Cook Inlet for oil and gas drilling leases has been met with opposition, the following statement was released by Alaska Environment:

Drilling in Cook Inlet should be left in the past

Scheduled offshore drilling lease sale poses risk to belugas, sea otters and more

ANCHORAGE, Alaska– Drilling in Cook Inlet will once again be on the table following a lease sale on Friday, December 30th, to be held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The auction will offer drilling rights for over 950,000 acres of the Inlet. 

Cook Inlet is home to an isolated and endangered population of beluga whales, as well as northern sea otters. While the lease sale will exclude areas that overlap with critical habitat for both species and will require mitigation measures, an oil spill a fraction of the size of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill would impact these at-risk marine mammals. Cook Inlet is also home to Sockeye, pink, Coho, and Chinook salmon. 

Lease Sale 258, originally scheduled during the Obama administration, was canceled by the Biden administration in May due to conflicting court rulings and a lack of industry interest, but the Inflation Reduction Act now requires it. 

Dyani Chapman, director of Alaska Environment, released the following statement:

“Alaska has a long history with oil, but we are so much more than just our crude. We should be looking forward to a cleaner, greener future in the coming year. Instead, we’re closing out 2022 with a lease for more dirty, dangerous offshore drilling. For the sake of our beluga whales, northern sea otters, salmon and more, we urge companies to recognize that drilling in Cook Inlet should be left in the past.” 


Alaska Environment is a statewide environmental nonprofit. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Alaska Environment is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.