Senate Votes to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from Big Oil Drills

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U.S. Senate rejects Big Oil giveaway, protecting key polar bear habitat from dangerous drilling

Polar Bear, © Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock

© Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock
In March 2012, in its first vote on the issue since 2008, the U.S. Senate decisively voted down a measure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), mirrored an extreme “drill everywhere” bill passed in the House of Representatives in February under the guise of funding this year’s transportation bill.

“The Senate today continued the legacy of keeping dirty and dangerous drilling out of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, demonstrating a commitment to our country’s natural treasures and a refusal to engage in the Big Oil giveaway that is keeping its Congressional counterpart spinning its wheels,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “If the House of Representatives is serious about securing critical transportation funding this year, they should follow suit and remove Big Oil’s wish list from the bill.”

More Drilling Will Not Solve Today’s Energy Problems

Conservative politicians have been after the Arctic refuge for development purposes for decades, falsely claiming that the amount of oil that lies beneath the refuge will solve our country’s energy crisis. However, drilling in the refuge will do nothing to combat the high gas prices seen today. Any oil that might be found on the refuge wouldn’t be seen for ten years, as oil companies would still need to explore, apply for drilling permits and start development.

Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain is Vital for Polar Bears, Caribou

The Arctic refuge is one of America’s greatest natural treasures, supporting a vast array of wildlife including arctic foxes, grizzly bears, muskoxen, Dall sheep, wolves and wolverines. Its coastal plain is the most important onshore denning habitat for America’s vanishing polar bears, as well as the calving ground of the Porcupine caribou herd. Industrial scale oil and gas development would destroy the pristine nature of this area forever, challenging the survival of these remarkable animals.

What’s Next for Arctic Wildlife?

For the past fifty years, Americans have remained committed to protecting this remarkable area and the abundant wildlife that depends on it. Defenders will fight to maintain this legacy so the refuge can continue to be a vital piece of our nation’s natural heritage.

Learn More

See how Defenders is working to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the animals that call it home.

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