Polar Bear, © Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock

Senate Votes to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from Big Oil Drills

Polar Bears, (c) Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock

The Arctic refuge is the largest onshore denning area for America's polar bears.

BREAKING: In its first vote on the issue since 2008, the U.S. Senate today decisively voted down an amendment to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration (vote count 41-57).

This amendment, offered by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), not only sought to open the Arctic refuge’s coastal plain to drilling, but also would have allowed drilling in vast areas of our nation’s coastal waters, including the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, offshore Virginia and Alaska’s Bristol Bay, would have approved the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and would have reinstated 11th hour regulations from President Bush that would allow massive commercial-scale leasing of our western public lands for oil shale and tar sands developments.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said after the vote, “The Senate today continued the legacy of keeping dirty and dangerous drilling out of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, demonstrating a commitment to our country’s natural treasures and a refusal to engage in the Big Oil giveaway that is keeping its Congressional counterpart spinning its wheels. If the House of Representatives is serious about securing critical transportation funding this year, they should follow suit and remove Big Oil’s wish list from the bill.”

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge_courtesy of USFWS

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of USFWS

Drilling in the Arctic refuge will do nothing to combat the high gas prices seen today. What small amounts of oil might be generated from oil and gas leasing in the Arctic refuge would not be seen for ten years as oil companies will still need to explore, apply for drilling permits and start development.

This amendment is almost identical to an earlier amendment introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that was ruled “non germane” by the Senate Finance Committee, and an amendment offered by Sen. Hoeven (R-ND) that was voted down last week.

Learn more:

Read about the reckless “drill everywhere” bill passed by the House of Representative last month.

13 Responses to “Senate Votes to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from Big Oil Drills”

  1. Jim Donovan

    Thank you to those Senators who voted to help protect the Arctic Refuge and shame on those who didn’t.
    When will we stop being held hostage by the interests of big oil?

    To think that drilling here will, somehow miraculously lore gas prices is naive. Gas pries are going up due to global demand from emerging countries like China and will continue to do so.

    The only way around it is to end our dependency on it.

    Oh, and we could eliminate tax breaks for oil companies IF anyone in Washington had the guts to do it.

    • Patty Cauley

      Congrats to the Defenders of Wildlife and all of their supporters!
      I second your comment, Jim!
      And your book looks great!

  2. Vati

    Thank you for all your hard work, for staying on top of so much, for your endless compassion in protecting the animals and the environment. And especially for reminding us of what is most important in a world where it’s easy to forget. Congratulations on the vote.

  3. Cha-Cha

    This is GREAT news!

    Is there any way to see how our Senators voted? It’s important to thank those who voted with the bears, and to call out those who did not.

  4. Gale Nichtula

    Thank God at least we can rest now for awhile knowing that this national treasure and an important place left on this earth for wildlide will be saved for the few remaining polar bears and such that need this wildlife refuge much more than we need it.

  5. Annette

    So very glad to hear that the senate has voted to protect our natural resources, wildlife being one of them. The thought of losing anymore of our wildlife due to man’s inability to see the importance of their place on this planet makes me ill. They were here long before we were and they need to be protected at any cost. They have as much right to inhabit this planet as we do, and we should not have to live in fear of their extinction because of man’s greedy nature and total apathy concerning their welfare! They are as much a part of the natural balance of nature as we are, and should be respected for that natural balance that they ARE entitled to!!!!!

  6. carol oneil

    I would like to know how senator scott brown voted on this arctic drilling bill;

    • Caitlin Leutwiler

      Hi Carol! Good news – Scott Brown was among the Senators who voted to keep drills out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And he wasn’t the only Republican do to do, demonstrating the bipartisan support for protecting this special place. (See my comment above for more information on specific votes cast on Tues.)

  7. Susan

    Yes this is great news! Thanks for all the work that has been done to accomplish this outcome.

  8. Muriel

    I’m confused and I think voting to stay out of the Wildlife Refuge is great. However, Big Oil is STILL getting what they want. This particularly vote distracts the public from what is still going on. CREDO Action, the Sierra Club, and the Alaska Wilderness League reports that right this very minute, Shell Oil’s Kulluk drilling rig is getting towed up the Pacific Coast to the Arctic to begin the most aggressive offshore Arctic drilling program in history – unless President Barack Obama acts to stop them in the next few weeks.

    They’re even organizing a nationwide “Polar Bear Uprising” on April 28… http://tinyurl.com/7ewjj4r

  9. Lynne in Florida

    I was very surprised, and majorly pleased, to learn that Marco Rubio (R-FL), normally a big corporation republican, was one of those across-the-aisle nay votes. Will wonders never cease!

  10. Stacy Ahmad

    This is the best news I have heard in a long time! Hurray!! I don’t want anyone ever to drill there for any reason….we humans need to leave pristine areas like this alone. We should never even go there, there is few places in the world that are as it should be….wild! Thank you to all the Senators who backed all of us who feel this way. I just hope it lasts. I believe we need to find better alternatives than drilling in wildlife refuges!

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