Bicameral Democratic Lawmakers Call for Continuing Protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska

Recent Interior Dept. Order could open up iconic natural landscapes to oil and gas exploration


Washington (June 21, 2017) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today sent a letter to the Interior Department calling on Secretary Ryan Zinke to continue important protections from oil and gas drilling in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska. Secretarial Order No. 3352 issued by Secretary Zinke on May 31 calls for a number of measures that could threaten these areas with oil and gas drilling, including an updated assessment of potential oil and gas resources in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and revision of the management plan for the Reserve.


“The actions called for in the order are short-sighted and disregard the long history of support for these exceptional natural landscapes,” write the lawmakers in their letter. “We ask that you recognize the tremendous public support for protecting these public lands, respect the results of the planning processes that have been undertaken in recent years, and not proceed with any actions called for in Secretarial Order No. 3352.” 


A copy of the letter can be found HERE


The 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of our nation’s most iconic and celebrated landscapes, is federally protected from oil and gas activity. And the Reserve already houses oil and gas leasing on 11.8 million acres, while protecting important wildlife habitat and conserving subsistence resources. Both areas have been historically recognized by Congress as being environmentally and culturally important and worthy of safeguarding for future generations, and there is overwhelming public support for maintaining protections for these special areas.