Cantwell Slams Trump Administration’s Lame-Duck Rush to Sell Oil Drilling Rights in Arctic Refuge

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement in response to reports that the Trump administration will seek to sell oil drilling rights in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in an auction on January 6, before President-elect Biden is sworn into office:

“Six decades after President Eisenhower enacted permanent protections for the irreplaceable Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, President Trump is announcing he will sell the rights to drill and destroy this fragile million year-old ecosystem.  This lame-duck Interior Department attack on our environment ignores the fact that major oil companies are not interested in spending billions for the chance at extracting expensive Arctic oil a decade from now. Every major U.S. bank has vowed to not finance Arctic Refuge development. And the incoming administration has promised to permanently protect the Arctic Refuge for future generations. Hopefully the courts will overturn this reckless lease sale based on the Interior Department’s purposeful suppression of science and procedural shortcuts.”

Cantwell has been the leading congressional champion of the Arctic Refuge and repeatedly fought back against efforts to drill in the pristine wilderness throughout her time in office. Last month, Cantwell blasted the Trump administration’s last-ditch rush to approve drilling leases in the ANWR before President-elect Biden is sworn into office. In September 2019, Cantwell introduced legislation to permanently protect the refuge from oil and gas drilling. 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.