Cantwell Hails Stop to Arctic Refuge Drilling

Senator Cantwell has led Senate efforts to protect pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for almost two decades.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released a statement following President Biden’s announcement that oil and gas leases would be paused in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending further environmental review.

“The Trump Administration’s efforts to shortcut environmental laws fall apart when exposed to the facts that federal scientists say Arctic Refuge drilling cannot be done safely and oil companies don’t want to drill there,” said Senator Cantwell. “Now it is up to Congress to permanently protect this irreplaceable million-year-old ecosystem and facilitate new economic opportunities based on preserving America’s pristine public lands for outdoor recreation.”

Throughout her time in the Senate, Cantwell has been the leading congressional champion of the Arctic Refuge and repeatedly fought back against efforts to drill in the Refuge pristine Coastal Plain. Last month, Cantwell co-led a letter to President Biden asking the Administration to include the repeal of the Arctic Refuge drilling program in the next climate and infrastructure budget package. In February, she questioned Secretary Haaland about her commitment to using a science-based approach when it comes to protecting Arctic wildlife during her nominations hearing and also reintroduced legislation to protect the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain and prevent oil and gas exploration and development activities.

Last November, Cantwell criticized former President Trump’s rush to approve drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before President Biden took office. She has repeatedly voiced support for protecting the refuge and has cosponsored multiple bills to designate its coastal plain as a wilderness area. In December of 2005, Cantwell led a historic filibuster that reversed a backdoor maneuver in the Senate to allow drilling in the refuge.