Congress has a chance to act this week on Arctic Refuge protections, through the budget reconciliation process. Unsurprisingly, Senator Lisa Murkowksi, who got us all into this situation in the first place by sneaking the coastal plain into the Tax Act four years ago, introduced an amendment removing the provision calling for the federal government to buy back the leased tracts – ONE DAY after the International Panel on Climate Change report called for governments to end all new fossil fuel exploration and production.  

 

And this is where you come in. The Senate will vote on the Murkowski amendment in the coming days, and senators need to hear from their constituents. Lower 48 friends, will you call your senators, let them know that you support protection for the Arctic Refuge, and ask them to vote “NO” on the Murkowski amendment? 

 

Find out how to contact your senator here. 

 

When you call, you’ll either speak to a member of your senator’s staff, or have the option of leaving a message. Here’s a script you can use: 

 

“Hi, my name is _____. I am a constituent, and I live in _____. I’m calling to ask Senator _____ to vote no on the Murkowski budget amendment 3137. This is an important step in protecting the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling. Please vote no on amendment 3137.” 

 

You may choose to share your story and values connecting you to the Arctic Refuge, or to keep your message short and simple. Either way, be very clear you are asking for a “No” vote on the Murkowski amendment. 

 

Alaskans, we know how it is calling Senator Murkowski about issues she has spent her career beating into the ground. Call her and let he know that Alaskans are watching. We know we aren’t going to change her mind. But since she so often speaks as if all Alaskans are eager to exploit the sacred lands so many of us treasure, she needs to hear that we have…you know. Concerns. 

Further background

 

Last week, the Biden administration took the first step in starting a new environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to examine the impacts oil leasing and drilling would have on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Notice of Intent (NOI) to conduct a new review of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program went live on Aug 4, 2021, and will be followed by comment periods when the public can, once again, weigh in on how oil drilling would impact the health of the coastal plain. 

 

The current Environmental Impact Statement, conducted under the Trump administration, faces legal challenges and contains significant deficiencies that many of us called out from the start, and have been recognized by Interior Secretary Haaland. 

 

This is indeed good news, and we commend the administration for taking this step. But asking the wrong question twice won’t solve the problem, which is that under current federal law established by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Department of Interior is required to conduct a coastal plain leasing program. And a law requiring the exploitation and desecration of sacred lands needs to be changed. As Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, said in a press release, “Mashi’ choo to this administration for respecting our human rights and for listening to our voices. Now it’s time for Congress to listen and to act to repeal this sloppy and embarrassing leasing program.” 

 

This is the time for, as one member of our coalition recently stated, “endless pressure, endlessly applied.” Multiple wheels are turning at once, and it’s hard to keep track of them all. Your attention on the Arctic is appreciated and shared.

 

  

Northern Alaska Environmental Center

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