Reichert, Fitzpatrick, and Costello Lead Letter to Leadership on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Nov 30, 2017 Issues: Energy and Environment

Washington, DC – Today, Republican Members of Congress sent a letter to Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell urging them to prevent consideration of any proposal that would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“As a life-long resident of the Pacific Northwest, I have a great appreciation for and interest in protecting our nation’s wilderness, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” said Rep. Reichert. “For many years, the Refuge has been the target of new oil drilling opportunities. This threatens the home of countless animal and plant species that depend on this unique environment to survive. For these reasons, we should continue fighting for the protection of this land. Protecting these natural gems for future generations to use and enjoy has and always will be one of my top priorities.”

“Serving as good stewards of our environment is something each and every one of us are called to do. Protecting our nation’s open spaces and wild places unites us as Americans,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this and urge others to join us in the defense of America’s wilderness.”

“There has been a long history of bipartisan conservation and stewardship efforts to protect the Refuge, and I call upon Congress to maintain these efforts and not include any changes in the tax bill,” said Rep. Costello.

This letter has been supported by several groups.

“We applaud these House champions for standing up for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and, in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, continuing the historic and steadfast bipartisan opposition to drilling in this iconic wild place,” said Adam Kolton, Executive Director of Alaska Wilderness League. “It is clear that using tax legislation to push drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is increasingly unpopular in Congress and it has long been opposed by a majority of Americans. Arctic Refuge drilling should not be a part of any final tax bill.”

“We applaud these Representatives for recognizing that protecting the Arctic Refuge from drilling matters to anyone who cares about our wild spaces-- no matter which side of the aisle they’re on," said Mike Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "If drill rigs make it into the Arctic Refuge, no park, forest or monument boundary will be able to keep them out.” 

“Since it was first protected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling has always been a bipartisan effort,” said David Yarnold, President and CEO of the National Audubon Society. “The Representatives who have signed on to this letter have taken an important stand at a critical time to defend the most prolific bird nursery. The birds and people we represent at Audubon thank you and will support you in your fight to ensure language opening the Arctic Refuge doesn’t become law.”

“We are grateful to these representatives for standing up against this backdoor scheme to sell off a national treasure," said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. "For nearly 40 years, there has been bipartisan support for defending the Arctic Refuge, and it is bipartisanship that can save one of our last wild and untouched places for future generations of Americans.”

“We commend these House Republicans for their leadership in opposing the Senate’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge tax bill scam,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.  “Opening the irreplaceable Arctic wildlife refuge to drilling has nothing to do with tax reform or raising revenue. It will only destroy vital habitat for imperiled polar bears, migrating caribou, musk oxen. wolves, and millions of migratory birds.” 

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 in northern Alaska under President Eisenhower. A public land order was signed, establishing this 8.9 million acre Refuge. The area overflows with flora and fauna in a pristine, untouched landscape where varieties of wildlife thrive in the Alaskan wilderness.

Earlier this year, Members also sent a letter urging the House Budget Committee not to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling in the budget resolution.