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 United States has such abundant and diverse wildlife, including rare musk oxen, polar bears, grizzlies, wolves, millions of migratory birds, and more than 120,000 caribou.
Although the Bush administration made drilling in the Arctic Refuge a cornerstone of its national energy strategy, that provision was ultimately removed from the final energy bill that was signed into law in 2005. This year, instead of promoting increases in energy efficiency or the use of clean, renewable energy sources, House leaders brought a stand-alone Arctic drilling bill to the floor. On May 25, the House approved the bill, H.R. 5429, by a 225-201 vote (House roll call vote 209). NO is the pro-environment vote. The bill was not taken up by the Senate. The Senate’s 2007 budget resolution once again included a provision counting revenues from Arctic drilling as part of the budget, but pro-conservation House Republicans again stood with Democrats to ensure that Arctic drilling was not included in the House budget resolution. The two bills were never reconciled in conference, so the Arctic Refuge remains protected.