For Immediate Release

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


  • 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.

  • 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.

The following is a statement by Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife:

“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.”


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Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.

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