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America’s Last Great Wilderness Under Threat, Again.

Photo: Dave Shreffler

For decades, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been at the center of a debate over oil drilling. Over the last 30 years, Congress has voted on whether or not to open the Refuge to drilling roughly 50 times. Thanks to diverse support from Americans across the country, efforts to open the Arctic Refuge to drilling have failed, and to this day it remains protected and celebrated as one of America’s most iconic and inspirational areas for recreation and wildlife.

Those tables have shifted, and the Arctic Refuge now faces one of its most serious threats. As part of his “Energy Dominance” goal, President Trump put the idea of drilling in the Arctic’s Refuge back on the table, calling for Arctic drilling as a source of revenue in his draft 2018 budget. Congress has since included provisions that would allow Arctic drilling into its proposed budget.

We believe that the Congressional budgeting process is no place to decide the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Outdoor Business and Recreationists’ support for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not a new idea. Since 1996, The Conservation Alliance has awarded more than $400,000 in grants to organizations working to secure lasting protections for the Arctic Refuge. In addition, last year, in an effort with Outdoor Alliance and Outdoor Industry Association, more than 100 businesses signed onto a letter urging President Obama to permanently protect the Arctic Refuge as a National Monument.

Photo: Dave Shreffler

What does the budget process have to do with the Arctic Refuge’s protection?

In 1980 the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act was passed, protecting half of the 20-million-acre landscape, which stretches from the Brooks Range north to the Arctic Ocean, and prohibits any drilling in the Arctic Refuge without further legislative action by Congress. Each year since then bills have been introduced to reverse this act. Because this topic is so controversial, moving legislation through a filibuster-prone Senate is nearly impossible. Pro-drilling Senators are turning their attention to the Budget Reconciliation process as a means to open the Arctic to drilling. Why? Because Budget Reconciliation only requires 50 votes to pass the Senate (technically 51, but we can assume Vice President Pence would break a tie).

By including revenue from Arctic oil drilling in the budget reconciliation bill, Congress can bypass the 60-vote threshold required to break a filibuster, and open our our most iconic wild landscape to oil drilling with only 51 votes.

We have drafted a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, asking them to leave the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the Congressional budgeting process, and to understand that a protected Arctic Refuge is good for business and the environment.

Thank you for considering joining us in this effort. Click here to read the letter and add your name.

 

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