The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure Thursday protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration and drilling.
The measure, known as the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, repeals a provision in the 2017 tax act that opened a 1.5 million-acre region in the Refuge to energy exploration.
This coastal region of the Arctic is home to denning polar bears, grizzlies, wolves, wolverines, muskoxen and more than 130 species of migratory birds.
The Trump administration is trying to move quickly to sell leases and start oil exploration and the Bureau of Land Management is allowing a less rigorous environmental assessment on the impact of the drilling on the region.
The Arctic Cultural Coastal Plain Protection Act, proposed by Rep. Jared Huffman of California, restores protections that had been in place for more than a century to safeguard the Refuge’s biological diversity.
The day after the measure was approved, the Department of Interior released a final report on the environmental impact of drilling and continued to push for lease sales in the region.
“We must continue to block this assault on one of the most pristine refuges in the U.S. in any way possible,” said FoA President Priscilla Feral. “We are pleased the House members who voted for the measure took action to stand up to oil and energy interests and stop the plundering of the refuge.”