Congress today passed tax legislation that includes a provision to open the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Following is a statement from John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance, a group of more than 200 companies that support protected wild places.
Congress has once again ignored the will of the American people by voting to open our greatest national wildlife refuge to oil drilling. But this battle is not over. Our member companies know, in a time of cheap energy, it makes no sense to despoil one of the last pristine places on Earth for an uncertain supply of oil. It is telling that oil proponents had to bury the drilling provision in a filibuster-proof tax bill to succeed.
Our member companies, which collectively employ thousands of Americans, understand that our public lands, including iconic landscapes like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, are worth far more than the natural resources that lie beneath them. Public lands are the backbone for outdoor recreation. Protecting these places supports businesses that help people enjoy life-changing outdoor adventures. Outdoor adventurers worldwide aspire to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Congress just took a swipe at their dreams.
Those members of Congress who supported the deeply unpopular tax scheme also chose to deny future generations the opportunity to visit an Arctic National Wildlife Refuge free of industrial development. Their votes say that we lack the restraint to leave some places alone. Our members and their customers will remember their names and their votes.
This bill is just the latest in a string of assaults on our shared public lands; assaults that threaten a vibrant and sustainable outdoor recreation economy. From shrinking national monuments in Utah to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Congress and the Trump Administration have set aside decades of bipartisan support for and stewardship of our shared public lands. They are on the wrong side of history.
The Conservation Alliance will seek opportunities to support legal challenges to Arctic oil drilling, which must first clear environmental regulations established by the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws. And we will engage our member companies to speak out against this latest attack on our natural heritage.
About The Conservation Alliance:
The Conservation Alliance is an organization of like-minded businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas. Membership in the Alliance is open to all companies who care about protecting our most threatened wild places for habitat and outdoor recreation. Since its inception in 1989, The Conservation Alliance has contributed more than $19 million, awarded 552 grants, helped to protect more than 50 million acres of wildlands; protect 2,991 miles of rivers; stop or remove 29 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase 12 climbing areas. For complete information on The Conservation Alliance, see: www.conservationalliance.com.