WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined 39 of his colleagues in introducing legislation to designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness and protect the land from future development. The Coastal Plain represents roughly 1.5 million acres of the 19.6 million-acre wildlife refuge. This week marked the two-year anniversary of President Obama transmitting the revised Arctic Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan to Congress, which for the first time in history recommended the Coastal Plain of the Refuge for designation as wilderness.
“Just like Delaware’s pristine beaches, the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our country’s natural treasures,” said Senator Carper. “As shared stewards of these vulnerable spaces, we have an obligation to protect our land, and water, from those looking to make a quick buck at their expense. Protecting this final piece of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from development will ensure that we have preserved this incredible wild place for our children and grandchildren.”
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest unit in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower established the original refuge, which comprised 8.9 million acres, as the Arctic National Wildlife Range. It was later expanded in 1980 to its current 19.6 million acres and renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, the 1.56 million acres that make up the Coastal Plain were not protected as wilderness in the Refuge’s expansion. Oil and gas leasing on the Coastal Plain was prohibited absent authorization by Congress, but the area was not given a wilderness designation. The legislation, originally sponsored by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), would designate the Coastal Plain as a wilderness area. The Coastal Plain supports more than 250 species, including caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, muskoxen, wolverines, and migratory birds.
Additional co-sponsors of the legislation include: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Catherin Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
A copy of the legislation can he found HERE.