House Speaker John Boehner and others in Congress are targeting the homes of polar bears and other imperiled wildlife with an environmentally irresponsible and misleading proposal to fund the Transportation Bill. A vote on their proposal could come before the House of Representatives as soon as next week.
The legislation would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the most important onshore denning habitat for America’s threatened polar bears. And it would encourage drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas -- sensitive waters are sometimes called the Polar Bear Seas because of their importance to polar bears for hunting and survival.
But it’s not just America’s polar bears that are at risk. The Arctic Refuge is also vital to caribou, wolverines, more than 200 different bird species, and other wildlife. Endangered bowhead whales can be found in the sensitive Arctic waters where Boehner and other Big Oil allies are pushing to drill.
Oil and gas drilling in these pristine areas – places vital to so many unique and ecologically important animals – could be disastrous.
Please take action now to urge your representative to oppose using Arctic oil and gas drilling revenues to fund the Transportation Bill.
The House leadership is pushing for a plan to use oil and gas drilling revenues from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore drilling in Arctic waters to close the funding gap for the reauthorization of the Transportation Bill.
This is a terrible idea that relies on highly speculative future revenues to fund very real transportation projects today.
Even the most generous revenue estimates from drilling will not be enough to fund proposed transportation projects in the bill, especially since any revenue from drilling in the Arctic Refuge will be reduced by as much as 90% through state-revenue sharing agreements already in place. In addition, any real revenue generation will likely not start for at least five years as oil companies will still need to explore, apply for drilling permits and start development. That's too late for today's transportation needs.
Relying on speculative revenue that may or may not materialize for years is no way to fund the bricks and mortar projects of next year.
Even the Competitive Enterprise Institute goes as far as to label this irresponsible plan "myopic political gimmickry."
America's Arctic is a place of pristine wilderness and waters and is home to some of our most iconic species, including polar bears, bowhead whales, arctic foxes, walruses. It is also the nesting ground of hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
Any proposal to include revenue from oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or in arctic waters in the transportation bill is bad fiscal policy and bad public policy. It will provide too little too late for the transportation bill and it threatens majestic wildlife and America's pristine arctic.
I hope that you will work with your colleagues to oppose any efforts to rely on questionable revenue from destructive drilling in the Arctic that will not close the funding gap in the Transportation Bill.
I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.