Bennet Statement on Trump Administration Approval of Plan to Drill in Arctic Refuge

Creede – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet release the statement below after Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt approved an oil leasing plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, moving one step closer to drilling on the Refuge’s coastal plain:

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is both sacred and spectacular – a jewel of our public lands, a critical habitat for wildlife, and a vital place for the Gwich’in Nation. It is a treasure we should leave for our children and a place too pristine to drill. The Trump Administration is rushing this decision out the door when there is no good case for drilling in this iconic piece of our national heritage. A broad coalition—from leading companies to outdoor recreationists to indigenous communities—opposes this reckless decision, and I’ll continue doing everything I can to reverse it.” 

In February, Bennet joined his colleagues in writing to 11 of the largest U.S. banks asking them to update their environmental and climate policies to include a prohibition on funding for oil and gas drilling or exploration in the Refuge. In September 2019, Bennet introduced legislation with his colleagues to protect the Refuge by designating the coastal plain of the Refuge as wilderness. In January 2019, Bennet urged then Acting Secretary Bernhardt to extend the public comment period on the proposal to lease oil and gas in the Refuge. In 2017, Bennet and U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) filed an amendment to protect the Refuge from new drilling leases in Senate budget legislation. In 2017, Bennet and Markey secured 41 Senate cosponsors for their legislation to designate the coastal plain of the Refuge as wilderness and protect the land from future development. Bennet also called for removal of any language in the Senate Republicans’ 2017 tax bill that would allow for drilling in the Refuge.