Press Room

Audubon to Congress: “This Is The Wake-Up Call You’ve Been Waiting For”

The New York Times reveals 1986 well drilled in Refuge: Damage continues.

WASHINGTON — “The mind-blowing images running all over the news should serve as a wake-up call to members of Congress who know drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is wrong,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, as news outlets report that a congressional committee is preparing to announce an agreement today on the tax package which includes a provision opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling to offset tax cuts.  

The New York Times article, “Here’s What Oil Drilling Looks Like in the Arctic Refuge, 30 Years Later” by Henry Fountain, shows graphic images of a well site drilled in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1986 and the damage that still persists.

“These images show damage from just one well site—imagine ruining 1.5 million acres of the biological heart of a national treasure. Did Americans really vote last year to walk away from the principle that there are places we protect for future generations? We don’t think so. We urge members of the House and the Senate to reject this tax bill that is a lose-lose for people and birds. The proposed tax package ignores the fact that 70 percent of Americans oppose drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Yarnold added.

Audubon’s infographics demonstrate how the revenue numbers promised don’t add up and paint a picture of the impact Senator Lisa Murkowski’s legislation could have on the Arctic 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, the bill effectively undermines the environmental and wildlife protections that typically apply to oil and gas development on federal lands. Last month, 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 Tundra SwanSnowy 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. It was first protected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and 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 and use 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 and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

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


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