Cantwell: GOP Must Abandon Plan To Turn Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Into An Oil Field

Senator responds to GOP in Capitol highlighting letter from 37 scientists with experience in the Arctic

November 9, 2017

Watch the entire event with Senator Cantwell here. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), held a press conference in response to Senator Murkowski’s bill that changes the primary purpose of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from conservation to oil production. 

During the press conference, Senator Cantwell said, “I guarantee you that people do not need to ruin a wildlife refuge and an ecosystem that is intact just to give tax breaks to big corporations. We can do better than this.”

“The only way they can open up drilling, again for something we don’t believe is going to generate the revenue or is needed to give tax breaks to corporations, is by mandating it – mandating the leasing,” said Senator Cantwell. “What’s next? What other wildlife refuge in America are you going to mandate drilling in? Are you going to just roll over current environmental law, and just say that you have to drill just to get revenue for the tax break?”

In the letter from a group of 37 U.S.-based scientists, whose research focuses on Arctic wildlife, the authors said, Based on our experience in the Arctic, we oppose oil exploration, development, and production in the Arctic Refuge. Such activity would be flatly incompatible with the purposes for which it was established, including “to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity.’” 

“Since the effects of industrial activities are not limited to the footprint of a structure or to its immediate vicinity, significant impacts on a variety of wildlife in the refuge’s narrow coastal plain are highly likely,” said the scientists.

“Clearly scientists today say they can’t coexist,” said Senator Cantwell. “But instead of admitting that they can’t coexist…they want to change the law that mandates drilling and changes the status of refuge to make sure that that drilling actually happens.”