Oil Rigs and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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7 mins read

The following is a version of a letter I emailed to a few dozen friends across the country hoping they would agree with me regarding drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and would write a few letters. I am sharing this via DemCast in order to shout from a higher hill.


Hello all,

We are in a countdown phase to the date when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will start selling leases for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The BLM aims to sell leases before the end of this year, and the process could start within the month.

During a comment period earlier this year, I objected to the notion of drilling in this pristine refuge — a place so fragile that its landscape is easy to damage and close to impossible to repair — and I still object.

I still object to destroying a landscape that is home to numerous endangered species in order to extract fossil fuels which, when burned, will foist still more damage upon the earth. This risks losses in nature for all the wrong reasons.

The BLM on Sept. 12 released its final environmental impact study. The environmental advocacy organizations are studying it with a view to making legal challenges. Native Americans are already in court over drilling in the refuge; the refuge’s caribou are their livelihood.

But the simplest way to cure this requires Congress to do the right thing — a big ask, I know. However, for a start on this, the House on Sept. 12 (yes, the same day) passed H.R.1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, which would repeal the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas program and thus restore protections to the refuge.

A day earlier, Sept. 11, six Democrats in the Senate introduced legislation — the Arctic Refuge Protection Act (S.2461)  — that would designate the coastal plain as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System and thus put the refuge off limits for development.

I want the Senate to pass one or the other of these bills, realizing getting Trump to sign would require subterfuge. Maybe it should be attached to the budget bill the way legislation allowing the drilling was attached to a tax bill. Linking this to the budget would have to happen this month!!.

Anyway, time is of the essence given lease sales could begin in October but definitely before year’s end. For those who are also concerned or just plain outraged (as I am), I offer possible language below for postcards, faxes, e-mails, calls — whatever fits your style — meant for your U.S. senators. I also  offer some language for the Senate’s kingpin, Mitch McConnell.

I hope you will wish to defend the Arctic, and I hope you will share with like-minded friends…. And, oh yes, shout on social media, too. Thanks.

Possible postcard language:

Dear Senator:
I am a constituent and I support keeping the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge free from drilling. It would be a great mistake to allow development that would damage the landscape, wildlife, and plant life irreparably while releasing carbon that has so far remained sequestered in the permafrost. BLM’s plans to open the refuge to drilling would do all this damage — in order to do MORE damage, when the extracted fossil fuels are burned.

Please pass HR1146 or the Arctic Refuge Protection Act (S2461), to keep oil rigs out. Consider attaching this to the budget bill to ensure a presidential signature!

Or to reveal a little more blood in your veins:

Dear Senator:
I am a constituent and I am heartbroken and furious that the U.S. Congress even considered allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Now, we are at the point where the BLM is ready to open the refuge to drilling, which will first cause irreparable damage to the landscape and the wildlife, release sequestered carbon and set us up to do further damage when burning the extracted fossil fuels.

Please pass HR1146 or the Arctic Refuge Protection Act (S2461), to keep oil rigs out. Consider attaching this to the budget bill to ensure a presidential signature!

And, as for Senator Mitch McConnell:

Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McConnell:
I am a voter and taxpayer, and I want Congress to reverse itself and keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge free from drilling. We shouldn’t consider development that would damage the landscape, wildlife, and plant life irreparably while releasing carbon that has been sequestered in the permafrost. BLM’s plans to open the refuge to drilling would do all this damage — in order to do MORE damage, when the extracted fossil fuels are burned.

Please pass HR1146 or the Arctic Refuge Protection Act (S2461), to keep oil rigs out. Consider attaching this to the budget bill to ensure a presidential signature!

For another little bit of help, I hope:

The faxzero.com site has fax numbers for all our members of Congress, except for those few members who don’t accept faxes (including both Massachusetts senators!). You can type, or copy and paste, your messages into the box that is described as the cover letter and forget about creating any attachments. Instructions are easy, and when all is done, you will get an e-mail advising if your message was sent successfully. This is free, BTW.

As ever,
Nadine Godwin


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


Born and raised in Iowa. Earned journalism degree at University of Iowa and masters degree at Teachers College Columbia University. Spent career as investigative reporter and editor, mostly with travel trade publications. Now retired, but writing on a freelance basis.

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