WASHINGTON – By a vote of 51-48, the Senate has passed a tax bill that mandates destructive oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite opposition from 70 percent of Americans. The House is expected to pass the bill after a second vote today. This backroom deal to buy the Alaska delegation’s votes on the controversial tax bill comes after decades of failed legislative attempts to open this federally protected wildlife habitat to oil and gas development.
The following statement is from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife:
“Congress has committed the ultimate sellout of America’s public lands with such a devious and shortsighted action in one of the wildest places left in the world. Shame on those who supported this abhorrent assault on our natural legacy.
“Today truly is a dark day for wildlife conservation, and it is a deep betrayal of the will of the American people. After decades of bipartisan support for protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the partisan majority in Congress tossed out those protections to pass a tax bill. But even following this irresponsible vote, the fight to save the Arctic is not over. Defenders of Wildlife and our supporters are committed to saving this irreplaceable wilderness. We will battle oil development in the courts, corporate boardrooms, the White House and on Capitol Hill to save imperiled polar bears, migrating caribou, thousands of migratory birds and other wildlife that depend on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“We will not disappoint future generations who may one day ask what we did to save this pristine place. And, given the strength of public support, we expect we will ultimately prevail.”