The protection of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is among the highest priorities for the national environmental community. Nowhere else on our continent is the complete range of arctic and sub-arctic landscapes protected in one unbroken chain, and no other conservation area in the circumpolar north has such abundant and diverse wildlife, including rare musk oxen, polar bears, grizzlies, wolves, millions of migratory birds, and more than 120,000 caribou. The refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain has been called “America’s Serengeti.”
The Bush Administration made drilling in the Arctic Refuge a cornerstone of its national energy strategy, which reached its final form in H.R. 6, the House energy bill. On April 20, 2005, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) and Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT) offered an amendment to strike the Arctic drilling provision from the bill (House Amendment 72). The amendment failed by a 200-231 vote (House vote 10).
In a related development, the budget resolution conference report contained instructions to open the refuge to oil and gas leasing and development. On April 28, 2005, the House
voted to adopt the resolution by a 214-211 vote (House roll call vote 149). NO is the pro-environment vote.