Activists rally at BP's Denver headquarters to urge company to reject drilling in Arctic Refuge

Monday May 20, 2019

Oil giant faces shareholders at annual meeting in Scotland in wake of new revelations about its pro-drilling lobbying efforts

Denver, CO — Activists rallied this afternoon outside BP’s US headquarters to call on the oil company to pledge not to drill in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The rally took place as the company prepares to face shareholders at its annual meeting in Scotland and in the wake of new reporting on BP’s lobbying efforts to see the delicate area opened to destructive drilling. 

bp-protest-arctic-drilling.jpgConsidered sacred to the Gwich’in Nation and key to their food security and way of life, this unique place has been protected for generations, until a provision in the 2017 tax bill opened it for oil and gas leasing. The Trump administration has been pushing for drilling on an accelerated schedule ever since, and hopes to hold a lease sale in the coastal plain as soon as this fall. BP America Chairman and President Susan Dio has expressed support for the Trump administration’s plan to sell off the coastal plain for drilling.

Today, a crowd of activists were joined by representatives from the Gwich’in Nation to rally outside BP America's headquarters in Denver to send a clear message to the company that if it moves forward with leasing in the coastal plain, it will face a powerful public backlash from the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose drilling there. BP’s office was also circled throughout the day by a mobile billboard carrying a message urging BP to stay away from the Arctic.

Photos of today’s rally and mobile billboard are available here.

Meanwhile, advocates in the UK plan to rally in Scotland tomorrow outside BP’s shareholder meeting to carry the same message of solidarity with the Gwich’in people and the need to protect the Arctic Refuge from destructive drilling. Throughout April and May, major oil companies, as well as the banks that fund them, have faced pressure at each of their annual meetings from shareholders and activists urging them to commit not to engage in or give financial support for drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

“If BP or any other oil company attempts to destroy the Arctic Refuge, they will have to answer to the Gwich’in and to the millions of Americans who stand with us,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff. “The coastal plain is sacred to our people, and our food security, culture, and way of life depend on its protection. It is no place for drilling, and we will continue to send this message to BP and the rest of the oil industry until they pledge to leave our sacred lands intact.” 

“Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is an unacceptable act that flies in the face of the rights of the Gwich'in. Banks and investors have seen what happens when an oil company dares to go against the will of the people and trample the rights of Indigenous peoples whose lands we have stolen,” said’s Extreme Oil campaign director Matt Krogh. “We saw it with the Dakota Access Pipeline, we saw it with the Keystone Pipeline, and we saw it with the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The only right thing to do is to leave the Refuge in peace by respecting the rights of the Gwich'in.”

“BP needs to recognize that drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not just bad for the climate and human rights, it’s bad business,” said Sierra Club Alaska Campaign Representative Alli Harvey. “The vast majority of the American public does not want to see the Arctic Refuge destroyed by drilling, and any company foolish enough to lease there will face enormous public backlash and reputational risk.”