Arctic Drilling Bill Heads to Tax Package: Audubon Will Fight On

No one would drill for oil in Yosemite Valley, and the same should be true for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

WASHINGTON — “Imagine a nearly eight-thousand-acre sprawl of oil fields in the middle of Yosemite Valley,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Senator Lisa Murkowski’s bill opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

“We wouldn’t do that to Yosemite and we shouldn’t do that the Arctic Refuge either. This bill won’t raise 10 percent of the promised revenue, it’ll crush the places wildlife need and it makes oil drilling the primary purpose of America’s most pristine wildlife refuge. It puts every national wildlife refuge at risk, and Audubon will fight this attack until common sense prevails.”

The drilling bill will now be folded into the larger tax proposal currently working its way through Congress, with a full Senate vote likely in the next few weeks.

Audubon’s infographics demonstrate how the revenue numbers promised don’t add up and paint a picture of the impact Senator Murkowski’s bill could have on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Further, by making oil and gas drilling a primary purpose of the wildlife refuge and mandating an 800,000-acre oil and gas program, Senator Murkowski’s bill effectively undermines the environmental and wildlife protections that typically apply to oil and gas development on federal lands. Last week, 37 leading Arctic wildlife scientists united to oppose drilling in the Arctic—making clear that wildlife and oil drilling don’t mix in the Refuge.  

More than 200 species of birds, including the Long-tailed Duck, Snowy Owl and Northern Pintail, depend on the Arctic Refuge. Many migrate through six continents and all 50 states to breed in the Refuge. The Refuge is an iconic American treasure on par with the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Yosemite. First protected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, leaders from both parties have worked together for generations to stop attempts to open the biological heart of the Refuge—its pristine coastal plain—to oil and gas drilling. (Maps available for download herehere and here.)

Audubon is asking its 1.2 million members and supporters to contact their members of Congress and urge them to protect the Arctic Refuge from future development. 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.organd follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez,, (212) 979-3100.