Audubon: “We’ll Do Whatever It Takes to Prevent Drilling in America’s Bird Nursery”

Arctic provision in tax bill opens Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

WASHINGTON — “This tax bill trades away a national treasure—for what—oil we don’t need and the fiction that oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will serve as a bank to offset tax cuts? This is the biggest threat the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has ever seen—but we are determined to protect America’s bird nursery from oil and gas drilling,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, after Congress voted to pass the tax bill which includes a provision opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling to offset tax cuts.  

“Our 1.2 million members will hold their members of Congress accountable for this vote. We’ll do whatever it takes to prevent drilling in America’s Bird Nursery.

“On the darkest days I like to think about the perseverance of the Tundra Swan who travel in family groups from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge over three thousand miles to spend their winter with us on the Potomac and the Chesapeake. They never give up and neither do we—if we don’t look out for them and the 200 other bird species that depend on the Refuge—who will?" Yarnold added.

“Allowing oil development in the Arctic Refuge cuts off public access to one of the Earth’s last wild places, threatens food security for Alaskans who depend on the fish and wildlife this bountiful land produces, and further harms our nation’s already beleaguered bird populations.  This vote is a stain for current and future generations; however, as we have done for decades, Audubon’s efforts to protect public lands in Alaska, including the Refuge, will continue,” said Nils Warnock, executive director at Audubon Alaska.

Audubon’s infographics demonstrate how the revenue numbers promised don’t add up and paint a picture of the impact this 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, this 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 members and supporters to take a pledge to stand with us and millions of others in this fight to protect the biological heart of one of the most wild places left in the United States.

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.