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."
Nevertheless, the Bush Administration made drilling in the Arctic Refuge a cornerstone of its national energy strategy. Stalled in the Senate by filibusters, the Administration
and its allies attempted to circumvent normal legislative procedures and smuggle Arctic drilling provisions into budget bills, which have special rules and cannot be filibustered.
The Senate’s fiscal year 2006 budget resolution, for example, included a provision counting revenues from drilling in the refuge.
On November 3, 2005, after an amendment offered by Sen. Maria Cantwell to strip Arctic Refuge drilling language failed (Senate vote 9), the Senate voted 52-47 to adopt S. 1932, the budget reconciliation package, which also contained language opening the refuge to oil and gas development (Senate roll call vote 303). NO is the pro-environment vote.