On January 5, 2011, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) reintroduced a bill to designate a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, protecting it from future oil and gas drilling.
The Arctic Wilderness Bill, which Rep. Markey has introduced every year since 2001, would place wilderness protections on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, an area that is home to a unique community of arctic wildlife.
"If we don't enact permanent protections for the Refuge, oil companies and their allies in Congress will continue to push for short-sighted plans to drill our last pristine wild places," said Rep. Markey, who is the Ranking Democratic Member on the Natural Resources Committee. "Rather than drilling in the Arctic Refuge, we should be using safer, cleaner forms of energy made here in America to create a refuge from foreign oil."
"When we look upon the Refuge decades from now, will we see a monument to America's commitment to our natural heritage, or will we see the abandoned wells and spilled oil as a monument to our insatiable thirst for oil?" asked Rep. Markey. "Will the Refuge remain a monument to America's wisdom or will our children and grandchildren only be able to see polar bears, caribou and other iconic animals carved in stone, monuments to our lack of foresight and innovation?"
The Wilderness Society is committed to keeping oil and gas drilling out of the Arctic Refuge, and will work with Rep. Markey and others to gain support for the Arctic Wilderness Bill in the new Congress.
"The Arctic Refuge is much too important a part of national identity and our conservation heritage to open it to oil and gas drilling,” said The Wilderness Society President Bill Meadows. “Designating all of the Arctic Refuge as Wilderness is a testament that we, as a nation, can protect one of the true marvels of the world."
Photo courtesyt of Lincoln Else