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.
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 once again attempted to circumvent normal legislative procedures by smuggling Arctic drilling provisions into budget bills, which have special rules and are immune to filibusters.
The Senate’s 2007 budget resolution included a provision counting revenues from Arctic drilling as part of the budget. On March 16, 2006 the Senate passed the resolution by a 51-49 vote (Senate roll call vote 74). NO is the pro-environment vote. Fortunately, 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.