House Leaders Introduce Bill to Protect Arctic Refuge
Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and more than 100 members of Congress today introduced bipartisan legislation to restore protections to the pristine coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act would halt the Trump administration in its rush to open the Refuge to oil and gas drilling exploration, by repealing a controversial provision in the 2017 GOP tax bill. The provision—which was jammed into the bill despite decades of bipartisan support for protecting the Refuge—not only allowed but mandated two oil and gas lease sales by the Department of Interior in the Arctic Refuge’s pristine coastal plain within 10 years.
Oil and gas development on the coastal plain would cause irreversible destruction to the Arctic Refuge’s unparalleled landscape. It would threaten iconic and increasingly imperiled wildlife, like polar bears, musk oxen, and the majestic Porcupine caribou herd. And it would violate the rights of the Gwich’in people who depend on it for survival. Moreover, the Arctic is ground zero for climate change—with temperatures rising twice as fast as the rest of the country. Drilling in the Refuge would compound the climate harms that Arctic communities and ecosystems are already facing every day.
Despite these risks, Trump administration officials led by Acting Interior Secretary and nominee, David Bernhardt, have barreled ahead to permit dangerous seismic exploration and allow oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic Refuge as soon as this summer. The administration has openly admitted their intention in rushing this process: to turn over these unspoiled wild lands to oil and gas industry giants before a new administration has a chance to stop it.
Rep. Huffman and the 100+ original cosponsors of the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act recognize that the only way to protect the Arctic Refuge from the administration’s disastrous oil and gas development scheme is to overturn the 2017 tax bill’s drilling mandate. By doing so, this legislation would stop the Trump administration’s devastating drilling program in its tracks and restore critical protections to the coastal plain.
Leaders in Congress must fight back against the Trump administration’s egregious assault on the Arctic—on our climate, the Gwich’in way of life, and pristine public lands—by taking up and passing the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act on the House floor this year.