Skip to main content

Senate Vote Threatens to Advance Oil Drilling in America’s Arctic

Earthjustice will continue challenging attempts to open Arctic Refuge and Arctic Ocean to drilling
The way of life of the Gwich’in people, who have depended on the caribou of the Arctic Refuge for millennia, is threatened by plans for oil drilling.

The way of life of the Gwich’in people, who have depended on the caribou of the Arctic Refuge for millennia, is threatened by plans for oil drilling.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
October 19, 2017
Washington, D.C. —

Today’s passage of the Senate budget bill signals a step toward oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and potentially other sensitive Arctic areas. Past proposals to drill in the Refuge have consistently failed, and the use of the budget reconciliation process to advance this agenda signals a divisive attempt to skirt democratic debate by using a policy vehicle requiring fewer votes for Congressional approval.  Regardless of the action taken by the Senate today, polling reveals that a majority of American voters continue to strongly oppose drilling in the Refuge, and in the Arctic Ocean.

The Coastal Plain, the biological heart of the publicly owned Refuge that would be targeted for drilling, hosts migratory bird species and endangered wildlife. It’s considered to be sacred to the indigenous Gwich’in people, who sustain themselves from the caribou that migrate there.

The following is a statement by Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen:

“The budget passed by the Senate today sets in motion a sellout of some of our most iconic public lands and waters to the highest bidder, in order to fund tax breaks for billionaires. The American public has long opposed attempts to mar the pristine Arctic Refuge with dangerous oil and gas development that would bring irreversible environmental impacts and ultimately exacerbate climate disruption. For decades, Earthjustice has fought to protect these treasured public lands.

“Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not a budget issue, and should not be part of the budget reconciliation process. This is a blatant attempt to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a divisive and controversial proposal that would lead us in the wrong direction on climate.

“In addition to threats facing the Refuge, the budget reconciliation process could also hold implications for the Arctic Ocean, where an oil spill could cause irreversible harm if development is allowed to proceed. Sacrificing our public lands and waters to benefit the oil and gas industry is both environmentally and fiscally irresponsible.”

Your timing is perfect …

At Earthjustice, we’re more than just lawyers in a courtroom. We’re a nonprofit in the business of building a better future for our planet. Our 135 lawyers measure success in clean air, clean water, and safeguards for communities across the country. We stand alongside our hundreds of public-interest clients at the frontlines of the fight for a better today and tomorrow. Case by case, our lawyers face off against deep-pocketed interests and today’s unprecedented attacks on our environment, health, and climate — and we win.

You have only a few days left to make a tax-deductible donation investing in our work that will immediately triple in value, thanks to a generous first-ever match offer from our Board of Trustees.

Whether you give $5 or $5,000, this will be the best investment you make today.

(Not convinced? Research our legal victories and see our clients, all of whom we represent free of charge.)


Rebecca Bowe, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2093

Overruling Trump.