Bennet and Markey introduce historic bill to protect the Arctic Refuge

Tundra in the refuge is vulnerable to industrial traffic. 

madpai, flickr

On the heels of President Obama’s historic recommendation last January to preserve nearly all of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, a record number of U.S. senators are co-sponsoring a new bill to protect the refuge’s sensitive coastal plain as wilderness.

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the senate bill with the support of 34 co-sponsors—more than any other wilderness bill in history. The bill would permanently protect vital caribou and polar bear habitat from oil and gas exploration.

“Sens. Bennet and Markey are responding to the president’s bold and visionary wilderness recommendation for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have called for its protection,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska regional director for The Wilderness Society.

“The Arctic Refuge is truly America’s wildest and last remaining intact ecosystem, and this bill would ensure lasting protection for its most sensitive and threatened area.” - Nicole Whittington-Evans

Caribou migration, by Bob Clark, flickr

At more than 19 million acres, the Arctic Refuge is approximately the size of South Carolina, and is one of the last great tracts of wild land left in the United States. Some places are simply too special to drill, and the refuge is one of them.

It is an amazing, wild landscape stretching from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean, and is home to polar bears, wolves, migratory birds and the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which consists of more than 180,000 animals. The caribou migrate 1,500 miles to the fragile coastal plain to give birth to their young, and polar bears come ashore to build their dens on the coastal plain.

Wilderness designation for the coastal plain would be a tremendous step, and would ensure that oil and gas infrastructure will never destroy the most threatened part of one of our nation’s greatest wild places.

Show your support!

It's important to let these senators know that you want them to continue fighting for the Arctic Refuge. If your senator is on the list below, please call and thank them

If your senator is not on the list, please call and ask that they support the bill. 

Co-sponsors of the bill include: 

Barbara Boxer (D-Calif)

Michael Bennet (D-Colo)

Chris Murphy (D-Conn)
Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn)

Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)

Ben Cardin (D-Md)
Barbara Mikulski (D-Md)

Ed Markey (D-Mass)
Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)

Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich)
Gary Peters (D-Mich)

Al Franken (D-Minn)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn)

Claire McCaskill (D-Mo)

Jon Tester (D-Mont)

Harry Reid (D-Nev)

New Hampshire
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

New Jersey
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

New Mexico
Tom Udall (D-NM)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

New York
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

Ron Wyden (D-Ore)
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)

Rhode Island
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Jack Reed (D-RI)

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Bernie Sanders (D-VT)

Maria Cantwell (D-Wash)
Patty Murray (D-Wash)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc)


"Action is long overdue to fully realize President Eishenhower's visionary action in first protecting the Arctic Refuge in 1960. The Coastal Plain is the biological heart of the Refuge, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to pass legislation that would ensure full wilderness protection for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge forever." - Sen. Markey