WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation heralds legislation that will permanently ban oil and gas development and permanently protect the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Often called the “crown jewel” of wildlife refuges, its coastal plain provides habitat for polar bears, caribou, and nearly 200 species of migratory birds, while also supporting the Indigenous Gwich’in people.
“This is one of the last truly wild places on earth, supporting migrating caribou, denning polar bears, and an abundance of songbirds, shorebirds and other waterfowl. It was simply wrong to ever consider drilling for oil in such a spectacular ecosystem,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “This legislation will ensure protections that are so desperately needed for both the wildlife and the Indigenous communities that depend on this land for survival.”
The legislation, introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), would repeal the Arctic leasing program mandated by the 2017 Tax Act and permanently protect the 1.5 million acre coastal plain. The idea of drilling in the wildlife refuge is hugely unpopular with the public – two thirds of Americans oppose it. Six of the largest U.S. banks have also announced they would not finance any oil development projects in the refuge.
The Arctic national Wildlife Refuge is the nation’s largest wildlife refuge, created over 60 years ago.
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