Arctic Wildlife Refuge: Why Trash an American Treasure for a Tiny Percentage of Our Oil Needs?

On the northern edge of our continent, stretching from the peaks of the Brooks Range across a vast expanse of tundra to the Beaufort Sea, lies Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. An American Serengeti, the Arctic Refuge continues to pulse with million-year-old ecological rhythms. It is the greatest living reminder that conserving nature in its wild state is a core American value.

In affirmation of that value, Congress and the American people have consistently made clear their desire to protect this treasure and rejected claims that drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge is any sort of answer to the nation's dependence on foreign oil. Twice in 2005, Congress acted explicitly to defend the refuge from the Bush administration and pro-drilling forces, with House leaders removing provisions that would have allowed for drilling from a massive budget bill, and the Senate withstanding an attempt by Republican leaders to open up the Arctic.

Since then, concerned Americans have continued to push Congress to thwart recurring efforts to see the refuge spoiled. During President Obama's 2008 campaign he pledged not to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing. Over the last year the Fish and Wildlife Service has been developing a new management plan for the Refuge and is considering recommending Wilderness for the coastal plain.