WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Senate Colleagues, and stakeholders met today to oppose the Trump administration’s latest attempt to sell out the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the oil industry. The Senators called for the removal of any language in the Fiscal Year 2018 Republican budget resolution that would allow for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest unit in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower established the original refuge, which comprised 8.9 million acres, as the Arctic National Wildlife Range. It was later expanded in 1980 to its current 19.6 million acres and renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The 1.56 million-acre Coastal Plain, the biological heart of the Refuge, supports more than 250 species, including caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, muskoxen, wolverines, and migratory birds.
“More than ten years ago, we fought this battle, and as you can see then, it was the same play they went through the budget process and tried to get it into a budget bill, and when they failed, they then tried to sneak it into the defense bill,” said Senator Cantwell. “Now, it tells you something that this idea does not stand on its own. It tells you that every time it has to be paired with something else as almost a sneak attack you have to vote for this because of these other issues. When are they going to stop holding us all hostages to vote for the arctic wildlife refuge being opened? When in reality, oil companies today aren’t interested in even drilling there at this price.”
“I hope that we’ll all fight very hard to make sure that on our watch, and we do not give up one of the crown jewels of the United States of America. That we will resist their unbelievable attempts to turn public lands over to polluters and to those who want to take away from tax-payers the unbelievable recreational opportunities that we hold so dear,” said Senator Cantwell.
Senator Cantwell has a long history of fighting to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. On December 21, 2005, Senator Cantwell successfully blocked the provision allowing drilling in the Arctic from the defense spending bill. On November 13, 2013, Senator Cantwell and Sen. Kirk introduced a bipartisan bill to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.