Published May 23, 2018
Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduces “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act”
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), joined by original cosponsors Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), introduced the “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act” in the U.S. House of Representatives that would repeal a provision in the controversial December tax legislation mandating drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Arctic Refuge drilling remains deeply unpopular – more than two-thirds of Americans oppose it. Today’s bill repeals that provision and sides with the majority of the America public who do not want, have not asked for, and will not accept sacrificing the wildest place in America for short-sighted, destructive fossil fuel production.
Oil industry allies in Congress used the tax reconciliation bill to circumvent the normal legislative channels because passing an Arctic Refuge drilling bill on its own would have been impossible. In addition, beyond gaining access to one of America’s most treasured public lands, big oil companies are among the largest beneficiaries of the tax bill, reaping billions of dollars in tax savings from cuts to corporate income tax rates and the generous tax treatment of capital expenditures.
Reaction from Indigenous People
“The Arctic Refuge coastal plain, the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd, will not be destroyed,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “We will not allow our last untouched ecosystem to be stolen for greed. With courage, strength and determination, we will defeat any attempt to drill in this sacred place. We have our ancestors standing with us, and although no one said this fight would be easy, we are survivors, we are strong and we are warriors for the Arctic. Together we will defend the Arctic Refuge, the porcupine caribou herd and the Gwich’in way of life.”
“Enforcing protection of the Refuge is necessary to ensure the lifestyle of the Gwich’in and Inupiaq people is carried on for generations to come,” said Adrienne Titus, Native Movement. “This rich ecosystem has supported the way of life that has sustained the people of the North since time immemorial. I commend Representative Huffman for introducing this bill and taking the time to recognize the importance of the Refuge to not only those who have spoken out, but also those whose voices that have not been heard.”
“The Gwich’in have an inherent right to continue to live their ancestral way of life as they have since time began,” said Faith Gemmill, Executive Director Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL). “Their way of life is dependent on a healthy ecosystem within the Arctic Refuge. There is no way the measure to drill in the Arctic Refuge would have been able to pass if the merits of the issue were debated openly. This new bill would set things right again, and allow open and honest dialogue about one of the Nation’s most precious ecosystems, and the Gwich’in who continue to live as they always have. When presented with the truth of the matter, Americans have always chosen wisely to protect this last intact ecosystem of America’s Arctic Coast and the thriving Indigenous cultures it supports.”
One of the largest intact ecosystems in the world, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a place of breathtaking natural beauty and untouched, rugged wilderness. Its remarkable glaciated peaks, northern forests and fragile tundra provide vital habitat for denning polar bears, a huge migrating herd of caribou, wolves and muskoxen, and nesting area for more than 200 migratory and resident bird species.