Historic number of Alaska lawmakers vote against drilling in Arctic Refuge coastal plain

Feb 15, 2017

A record number of Alaska lawmakers voted against a resolution urging Congress to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

Peter Mather

In a historic move, four Alaska legislators from across the state this morning voted against House resolution HJR 5, which urges Congress to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration. Five representatives were absent. In response, The Wilderness Society’s Alaska regional director, Nicole Whittington-Evans, issues the following statement:

“Although we are disappointed the resolution passed, we are heartened to see growing support in the legislature for protecting the sensitive coastal plain for future generations,” Whittington-Evans said. “This destroys the oil industry’s myth that all Alaskans support drilling in one of America’s last great, pristine places.

“During public hearings on the resolution, more than 50 Alaskans from across the state showed up to testify against drilling on the coastal plain, dramatically outnumbering supporters of HJR 5. That’s because the Arctic Refuge is a place that is too special to drill.

“As the birthing ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the coastal plain is the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge and vitally important to the survival of the Gwich’in people,” Whittington-Evans added. “Protecting it is a matter of human rights for the Gwich’in, and saving it for future generations is in the best interest of all Americans.”

The resolution now goes to the Alaska Senate.