Don't Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

October 2, 2017

Photo Credit: ©Steve Zack

The Senate Budget Committee has unveiled its Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution, which intentionally opens up a pathway to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This would be unnecessary and harmful, said WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli in a statement. The Arctic Refuge is a place of great natural value to wildlife, to the people who rely on this land, and to the American public.

"Congress must continue to protect one of America’s last remaining pristine landscapes," said Calvelli, "and reject this attempt to allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Once done, it can never be taken back."

The Arctic Refuge provides critical habitat and migration passage for a diverse array of wildlife, including caribou, muskoxen, wolverines, Arctic foxes, lemmings, gyrfalcons, ptarmigans, and a vast international assemblage of migratory birds that breed there in the summer. In addition, the coastal plain has the highest density of denning polar bears in Arctic Alaska. Faced with the dramatic loss of sea ice, polar bears are increasingly dependent on safe and disturbance-free den sites to rear their young.

WCS’s conservation legacy in the Arctic Refuge goes back more than half a century. On an exploratory field survey co-sponsored by WCS, then-graduate student George Schaller (whose later work with WCS established him as the pre-eminent field biologist of our time) accompanied the famed Murie Expedition into northeastern Alaska. The expedition’s findings prompted the Department of the Interior under the Eisenhower Administration to set aside this dramatic landscape in 1960.

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