MARCH 19, 2003
David Willett, (202) 675-6698
Senate Scores Critical Victory for Protecting
- March 19 - In a tremendous victory for America's environment,
52 Senators voted to turn back an effort today to drill for oil
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A bipartisan group of
Senators prevailed in safeguarding this national treasure and
the native people who depend on it, despite heavy lobbying by
the Bush administration and the oil industry. Senators passed
an amendment to strip Arctic drilling revenues from the Budget
Resolution, marking a pivotal vote in the 25-year fight to protect
The Bush Administration
tried to advance Arctic drilling through the complicated budget
process by slipping in an assumption of $2.15 billion in expected
revenues to the federal treasury from leasing and development
of the Arctic Refuge. When the Budget was brought to the floor
today, Senators Boxer offered an amendment to strip Arctic drilling
revenues from the bill, which prevailed by a vote of 52-48.
is a big victory for America's environment and the American people,
and we're thrilled that a strong, bipartisan group of Senators
stood up to protect this spectacular landscape," said Carl Pope,
Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "Americans consistently
voice support for protecting the Arctic, and today the Senate
listened by rejecting this backdoor attempt to drill in this special
the Arctic is the centerpiece of the Bush Administration's energy
policy, and drilling proponents have tried to exploit the current
geopolitical situation and concerns about rising gas prices to
gain support for drilling.
are concerned about national security, but drilling in the Arctic
will do nothing to alleviate these fears," continued Pope. "Arctic
drilling would not put a dent in our dependence on foreign oil,
would do nothing to strengthen our national security, and would
not save consumers a dime. We cannot drill our way to energy independence."
States sits on just three percent of the world's known petroleum
reserves. Government estimates indicate that there is less than
a six month supply of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
and even the oil industry admits it would take ten years to make
it to US markets.
sacrifice the crown jewel of the refuge system for speculative
revenue gains and six months of oil?" asked Pope. "Americans overwhelmingly
say 'no.' They support protecting the Arctic Refuge, and today
their Senators heard them loud and clear."
(D-CA), Chafee (R-RI) Feingold (D-WI) Snowe (R-ME), Lieberman
(D-CT), and Kerry (D-MA) led the winning effort to strip arctic
drilling revenues from the Budget Resolution.
both Republican and Democrat, stood firm against tremendous pressure
from the Bush administration and its allies in the oil industry,"
said Pope. "We thank them for their steadfast support in fighting
to make sure the Refuge is protected, not needlessly plundered.
The Arctic Refuge is too valuable to be just another number in
the budget process."
A recent National
Academy of Sciences report on the cumulative effects of drilling
on Alaska's North Slope reaffirmed the devastating impacts that
drilling has already caused in the region and provided further
evidence that we need to protect the Arctic Refuge. The coastal
plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure--home
to polar bears, wolves, and countless migratory birds. The coastal
plain is also the birthing grounds for the 129,000-member Porcupine
River caribou herd and it is sacred land to the Gwich'in Indians,
a native people whose traditional lifestyle depends on the caribou.
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