09:19 PM

For Immediate Release


WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives approved a Fiscal Year 2018 budget bill that advances drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate Committee on the Budget also voted on a draft budget today that would pave the way for refuge drilling. Last month, a leaked Department of the Interior memo revealed the Trump administration’s own plans to illegally rollback restrictions on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic Refuge.

Statement from President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“This is a flagrant attempt to highjack the budget process to pave the way for drilling in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These votes will railroad more than 30 years of protections for one of our nation’s last great wildlands through bureaucratic legislative procedures. They want to settle the debt of the nation on the backs of denning polar bears, migrating caribou herds and migratory birds. Our wild natural heritage should be preserved for all Americans and for future generations, not sold to the highest bidder.”


  • At more than 19 million acres, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is also one of the last intact landscapes in America, and home to 37 species of land mammals, eight marine mammals, 42 fish species and more than 200 migratory bird species. Established in 1960 to protect its extraordinary wildlife, wilderness and recreational qualities, the Arctic Refuge is a place where natural processes remain mostly uninfluenced by humans.
  • The 1.5-million-acre Coastal Plain is the biological heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and is of critical importance to wildlife. It is also where oil interests want to drill. Proposed oil development on the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain – sandwiched between the Arctic Ocean and the Brooks Mountain Range – would have serious impacts on wildlife. The refuge contains one of the most fragile and ecologically sensitive ecosystems in the world. Its environment is extremely vulnerable to long-lasting disturbance because the harsh climate and short growing seasons provide little time for species to recover.
  • The refuge supports the 200,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd and provides critical habitat for the threatened polar bear. Mother polar bears spend the winter denning on the Coastal Plain where they give birth to their cubs, and more and more are using the coastal plain for denning as the climate warms. The refuge also supports wolves, arctic fox, muskoxen, Dall sheep and many other species.
  • Seismic testing, the first step to oil development can drive mother polar bears away from their dens and cubs. Noise from aircraft and vehicles disturb a suite of sensitive species. Drilling could also alter the annual path of the Porcupine caribou herd, which undertakes one of the longest land mammal migrations in the world.
  • Over 200 species of migratory birds visit the Arctic Refuge from all 50 states and from six continents. Drilling in the refuge would severely affect vital breeding grounds for migratory birds. The Arctic Refuge may be far away, but impacts there would affect birds – and in turn, ecosystems – across the country.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.