In an effort to yank back a provision in the tax measure that allowed for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, four U.S. Congressional representatives have co-sponsored a bill that would protect its coastal plain region.
The effort is certainly worth a cheer especially because it comes at a time when Alaska’s wildlife is jeopardized on multiple fronts. Last month, the National Park Service published a proposed rule that would allow grotesque hunting practices that include shooting caribou from boats while they swim, targeting animals from airplanes, baiting bears, shooting both cubs and pups in their dens alongside their mothers and using dogs to hunt.
Now the Trump administration is moving swiftly to drill in the pristine coastal regions of the Arctic, home to polar bears, grizzlies, wolves, wolverines, muskoxen and more than 130 species of migratory birds.
The Refuge consists of more than 19 million acres of pristine wild lands and was first set aside for protection in 1960. Past efforts to drill in the region that hosts 250 species have failed. But last year, in a move to obtain support for the Republican tax measure from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a deal to include a provision that opens a 1.5 million- acre region in the Refuge to oil and gas exploration –despite the fact that a majority of Americans strongly oppose drilling in the region.
After the tax measure passed with Murkowski’s help, the Trump administration moved quickly to launch a review process to hold lease sales in the area.
In May, four Democratic Representatives fought back, introducing HR 5911, which would repeal the drilling provision in the 2017 tax law.
“Plain and simple: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure worth protecting for future generations.’’ said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-California. “Although Republicans in Congress snuck a dangerous drilling provision into their tax bill last year, it’s not too late to keep drills out of this iconic landscape.”
While drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge may cause catastrophic consequences and irreversible damage, it comes with little to no benefits. The U.S. Geological Survey had estimated that the Coastal Plain area would only provide a six-month’s supply of oil for Americans and would take years to get the supply to market.
“We must muster the energy to block this assault on one of the most pristine refuges in the U.S. any way possible,” said FoA President Priscilla Feral. “The Arctic Refuge is pure wilderness.”
Contact your U.S. representatives and tell them to support HR 5911. To locate your Congressional member’s contact information, click here.