Legislation Aims to Nullify Balanced Approach in Western Arctic
Today, the House of Representatives passed the Federal Lands, Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013 (H.R. 1965), introduced by Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO). If signed into law, the legislation would nullify protections for the most critical wildlife habitat and native subsistence areas within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve). The bill abandons the Obama administration’s management plan for the Reserve, which was finalized this year following an extensive two and a half year process that was broadly supported by over 400,000 Americans, sportsmen, scientists and members of Alaska’s native community.
A globally significant wildlife landscape, the Reserve includes habitat for two caribou herds, millions of migratory birds and waterfowl, polar bears, walrus, wolves, wolverine, grizzly bears, seals and beluga whales, among many others. Congress, and members of both parties, have long recognized the Reserve’s remarkable environmental and social values and directed the Secretary of Interior to balance oil and gas drilling with the protection of the Reserve’s Special Areas. H.R. 1965 would directly contradict this long history and effectively allow for unchecked and risky oil and gas drilling in the Reserve’s most sensitive areas.
Luckily for the American people and the Reserve’s immense wildlife populations, this legislation will go no further. It is very unlikely that United States Senate will take up this legislation and even if it did, President Obama has stated that if it reached his desk, he would warm up his veto stamp. Instead of wasting time passing dead end bills, our elected officials should applaud and respect the common sense approach enacted in the Obama administration’s recently finalized plan.
Alaskan, Arctic explorer, and author of “On Arctic Ground” Debbie Miller, testified against H.R. 1964 (the precursor to H.R. 1965) earlier this year. You can read Debbie’s full written testimony here.