Two years ago, the GOP snuck a “backdoor drilling provision” into their tax bill that would allow for lands in the heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to be opened for oil and gas drilling. Now, new legislation introduced this week aims to restore protections to ANWR and stop fossil fuel extraction.
Introduced by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), the bill would reverse the provision put into the 2017 tax bill that opened the Refuge’s coastal plain to oil and gas exploration and drilling.
“This bill calls a halt to the Administration’s headlong rush to sell off this special wilderness to corporate polluters,” said John Bowman, Senior Director for Federal Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And it preserves the fundamental human rights of the Gwich’in people whom these lands have sustained for thousands of years, and who – among two-thirds of all Americans – oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge.”
“There’s no such thing as a refuge where destruction is permitted. You can’t call these fragile wild lands a refuge if you cast them open to 90,000 pound trucks and allow destructive activities that will further threaten imperiled polar bears, foxes, musk oxen and migratory birds.”
The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act is bipartisan legislation and already has 100 co-sponsors.
.@RepHuffman announces introduction of the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to restore protections to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge #ProtecttheArctic pic.twitter.com/gFsV9c9Lpw
— Sierra Club Live (@SierraClubLive) February 11, 2019
Environmentalists say that drilling even for one season on the coastal plains of ANWR would be catastrophic. The refuge is currently the largest protected wilderness in the U.S., consisting of more than 19 million acres and is home to 37 species of land mammals, eight marine mammals, 42 fish species, and more than 200 bird species. A poll conducted last year showed that a majority of Americans opposed drilling the ANWR.
If you would like to submit a public comment to the Bureau of Land Management on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, you can do so by clicking here. The comment period ends on March 13, 2019.