Drill, Baby, Drill? Not So Fast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

If passed, a new bill could reverse Trump’s efforts to open the Alaskan wilderness to Big Oil.

For decades, environmentalists have been fighting to keep drilling out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a sprawling 19 million acres of undisturbed wildlands in Alaska. And just before leaving office, President Obama adopted a plan to manage it as wilderness.

And for good reason. This place is more than just beautiful. The Far North is already dealing with the effects of climate change, and the area is one of the lasts redoubts for species like polar bears and musk ox—not to mention the breeding grounds for myriad species of migratory birds. The refuge is also essential to the native Gwich’in people’s way of life and the Porcupine River caribou herd their communities have relied on for thousands of years.

So when Trump allies opened the region to drilling late last year by jamming the measure into a tax bill, the backlash was fierce.

A new bill, introduced last week by congressmen Jared Huffman of California and other House Democrats, would repeal the Arctic Refuge drilling provision in the tax bill, prohibiting new gas or oil leases and halting the renewals of existing leases. The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Act would protect one of the last pristine corners of the country where even one lease—and one spill—could bring disaster.

“Although Republicans in Congress snuck a dangerous drilling provision into their tax bill last year, it’s not too late to keep drills out of this iconic landscape,” Huffman said. “But time is not on our side."

A companion bill is expected to be announced soon by Senate Democratic lawmakers, but both are likely to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House.

Stop the Trump administration’s assault on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

onEarth Story

The man who’s likely to replace Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary is a seasoned Washington insider—and (surprise!) a former lobbyist for Big Oil and Big Ag.

onEarth Story

Most Americans, including many congressional Republicans, are strongly opposed to oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So why is it attached to the tax bill?

Explainer

Can President Obama finally end the debate over drilling in northeastern Alaska?

NRDC in Action

NRDC played a key role in banning offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic. Once again, it’s fighting to protect those oceans—and the rest of America’s waters.

Explainer

Before a president auctions off U.S. coastlines to oil companies, he has to ask state governors, Congress, local businesses, and you. Here’s how Trump is ignoring that process—and how it’s endangering coastal communities.

onEarth Story

In Donald Trump’s war on the environment, Americans’ complacency is his greatest ally.

Latest News
onEarth Story

Plus, Wheeler ignores factory farm pollution, Zinke ignores damage to wetlands, and Trump ignores public opposition to drilling the Arctic Refuge.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.