Looming Senate vote puts Arctic Refuge in grave danger of oil drilling

The Wilderness Society
Age of Awareness
Published in
3 min readOct 12, 2017
Caribou migrate in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Image: Peter Mather

Despite the efforts of millions of Americans, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is now in imminent danger of oil drilling as the Trump administration pushes dirty legislation through Congress. The refuge’s fate could be decided just days from now, when the U.S. Senate is expected to hold a monumental vote that could change the refuge forever.

Take action: Tell your Senators to remove Arctic Refuge drilling from the budget.

On Sept. 7, both the Senate Budget Committee and the full House of Representatives approved terrible budget resolutions that pave the way for drilling in the refuge.

The full Senate is expected to vote in a few days and, if they pass this outrageous legislation, one of the last pristine, untouched landscapes we have left will be in grave danger.

The stakes for this wild landscape have never been higher, and we implore you to take a few moments to tell your senators that this assault on America’s public lands is unacceptable, and the full Senate must remove Arctic Refuge drilling from federal budget legislation.

The coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is critical for caribou birthing rituals. Image: Peter Mather
Left: The refuge’s flora is slow-growing, fragile and easily damaged by heavy equipment. Image by Lincoln Else. Right: Muskoxen are one of dozens of species whose habitat could be carved up and fragmented by oil infrastructure. Image: Patrick Endres

“This is a shameless attempt to hijack the federal budget process and push an exceptionally unpopular idea through Congress so that President Trump can sell off one of our greatest national treasures to the oil industry,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society after the Sept. 7 vote in the House. “The Arctic Refuge is simply too fragile and special to drill and we have a moral obligation to protect it for future generations of Americans.”

Americans have defended this unique refuge for decades, knowing how critical it is for caribou, polar bears and a great diversity of birds and other species. But it could all be lost in the next Senate vote — all for the benefit of rich oil companies.

Oil and gas drilling would have devastating impacts on this pristine and fragile ecosystem, caused by the massive infrastructure needed to extract and transport oil. Drilling the Arctic is risky, would fragment vital habitat and chronic spills of oil and other toxic substances onto the fragile tundra would forever scar this now pristine landscape and disrupt its wildlife.

We urge you to tell your senators that this special wild place must be protected as wilderness for future generations of Americans.

It is imperative that Congress gets a clear message: The majority of Americans want the Arctic Refuge to remain protected. It is simply too wild to drill.

Learn more about current threats to the Arctic Refuge



The Wilderness Society
Age of Awareness

The Wilderness Society’s mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places.