Latest Arctic Refuge drilling bill based on misleading claims

While there’s a lot of positive change afoot in Washington, some things just never seem to change. One of those is the Alaska congressional delegation’s single-minded determination to drill in one of America’s last true wilderness areas, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Today, just a few weeks into the 111th Congress, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) introduced a bill that would allow so-called “directional” (or horizontal) drilling from state lands and waters adjacent to the refuge in order to reach oil that might be found under the refuge’s coastal plain.

In their press release announcing the legislation, the two Senators trot out tired — and misleading — claims about the potential of directional drilling technology, its impact on the fragile Arctic environment, and the ability of the proposal to create new jobs.

The Wilderness Society, Alaska Wilderness League, and Gwich’in Steering Committee challenged the exaggerated claims of the Murkowski-Begich bill, lamenting the emphasis on drilling the refuge instead of addressing the long-term energy and climate challenges in America’s Arctic.

“We are disappointed because we would rather work with Sens. Murkowski and Begich on a comprehensive Arctic climate and energy plan,” said Eleanor Huffines, Alaska Regional Director for The Wilderness Society.