Sacrificing Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a Running-On-Empty Strategy

Feb 1, 2012

The following statement from The Wilderness Society Senior Director of Legislative Affairs David Moulton is in response to the markup in the House Natural Resources Committee of H.R. 3407, H.R. 3408, and H.R. 3410.

“The myth that all of America’s problems can be solved by drilling for oil is front and center in this flawed plan to fix America’s crumbling bridges and highways.  Combined, these bills would generate less than 1% of the necessary revenue to fund the proposed highway bill.  The majority members of the House Natural Resources Committee are running on empty, trying to roll this vehicle forward a few more inches before forced to abandon it at the side of the road. 

“Sacrificing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – one of the last pristine ecosystems in the world – will not even begin to fix the problem facing America’s infrastructure.  Nor will opening all of America’s coasts to offshore drilling – inviting more Deepwater Horizon disasters, but coming no closer to rebuilding America’s highways.  Oil shale is even less likely to solving the crisis, having never been commercially viable, and with zero likely revenue.

Meanwhile, this bill would land a massive blow to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It would force the Refuge System to do something that has never been allowed since the Refuge Act passed in 1966 – issue new oil or gas leases on a wildlife refuge.  It would authorize  an invasive network of roads, oilrigs, and pipelines that would fragment the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, destroying the untrammeled habitat forever.  In addition, this legislation would imperil coastlines that now are protected from drilling by making them vulnerable to oil spills, and tens of thousands more acres of public lands would be leased to oil and gas companies on the false promise of oil shale development.  This plan is all risk with no reward, as it will not even begin to approach the revenues needed to fix our roads.

“These bills do not represent a serious effort to address the needs of America’s highways – just more wilderness under siege from an anti-conservation Congress.  They represent not-so-veiled attempts to hand out favors to fossil fuel industries that hardly need another assist from the federal government.”