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US Senate blocks Arctic drilling

Good news for wildlife?

Yesterday, in a 56-44 Vote, the United States Senate blocked drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – at least for the time being… Opening a portion of the refuge to gas and oil exploration has been a goal of US companies for 25 years, and is a key objective of the Bush administration."We do not need to despoil the pristine wilderness of the Arctic Refuge. Readily available alternatives including energy conservation and efficiency with existing technology, can have a bigger impact sooner," stated John Flicker, President of the National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the US). "We applaud the members of the US Senate who stood up to the special interests and voted to block this cynical abuse of power. They have demonstrated their resolute commitment to the environment, to the American people, and to protecting the great natural heritage we all share."

Alaska Republican Ted Stevens had attached the measure to the Department of Defence appropriations bill (an essential piece of legislation) in a desperate, last minute attempt to push forward the Arctic drilling provision. However, the Senate rejected the measure with a number of Republican Senators joining 41 Democrats in the vote to protect the refuge."Drilling in the Arctic Refuge will provide no relief from high gas prices, while robbing our children and grandchildren of a true natural treasure." - Bob Perciasepe, Chief Operating Officer, National Audubon Society

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been called ‘America’s Serengeti’, provides essential habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including polar bears which build dens and give birth on the Coastal Plain of the refuge, as well as caribou, musk oxen, wolves and wolverines. Huge number of birds, including Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos, Snowy Owls Nyctea scandiaca and many other species, are also found there.

Although the result of the vote is good news, the drilling legislation is likely to be presented again separately to the Senate.

4th July 2014