All Hands on Deck for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Take 1

Photo: Florian Schulz

Last week, the US Senate released its budget plan for 2018, which proposes opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling to help pay for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. Senate Republicans, who have long sought to open America’s most pristine wilderness to oil rigs, are cynically using the budget process to win approval for Arctic drilling, which would never pass through normal order. Why? Because according to the Senate’s terribly confusing rules, a budget bill requires only 51 votes to pass, and cannot be filibustered. (Filibuster: an action such as a prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly.) Any other effort to approve drilling in the Arctic would require 60 votes, which has proven impossible for over three decades. So, with 52 Republican seats in the Senate, and the tie-breaking vote in the hands of Vice President Mike Pence, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has never been more threatened. The House of Representatives’ version of the budget also includes Arctic drilling.
We can stop this assault on our most remote and wild natural landscape – but we need to act quickly.
Senate Democrats overwhelmingly oppose Arctic drilling, and a small number of moderate Republicans are either undecided or think the budget process is an inappropriate venue to decide whether to despoil America’s great wildlife refuge.

We have two opportunities to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil rigs: 1) Ask our Senators to strike Arctic drilling from the budget bill, and 2) If #1 fails, ask our Senators to vote down the entire budget bill.

1. Convince the Senate to strike the drilling provision from the budget bill.


PHONE CALLS! Please make eight important phone calls, TODAY.
As early as the week of October 16th, the Senate will consider amendments to the budget bill that would remove the Arctic drilling provision. Between now and then, we need to do everything we can to ensure Senate Democrats support that provision, and we need to convince three Senate Republicans to join them.

Please call your own Senators with this message (202.224.3121): I was incredibly disappointed to hear that the Senate intends to use the budget process to try and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. I oppose any bill that would open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. Specifically, please keep drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the budget process.

Most importantly, give these Republicans a call with the same message:

  • Susan Collins, Maine – (202) 224-2523
  • John McCain, Arizona – (202) 224-2235
  • Lindsay Graham, South Carolina – (202) 224-5972
  • Cory Gardner, Colorado – (202) 224-5941
  • Jeff Flake, Arizona – (202) 224-4521
  • Dean Heller, Nevada – (202) 224-6244

SOCIAL MEDIA! Join us in a social media day of action for the Arctic on Thursday, October 12th.

If you haven’t already, sign-up for Promoboxx – it’s a wonderful tool that allows Conservation Alliance members to share curated content from us, with a single click of a button. Signing up is simple, just visit Promoboxx is home to a complete Arctic Refuge social media toolkit. We are encouraging our community to join us in a social media day of action for the Arctic on Thursday, October 12th.

Not on Promoboxx but want the Arctic content? Email Kirsten at

2. If we can’t get it out of the budget, convince 51 members of the Senate to vote against the entire budget bill.

If the amendments fail, we will have one final chance to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling. That would require that 51 Senators vote no on the budget. The same moderate Republicans will be the targets under this scenario, with the addition of Bob Corker (Tennessee), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), and Rob Portman (Ohio). (If you want to include Corker, Alexander, and Portman in your calls right away, you get extra credit. We just thought it was a lot to ask people to make 11 phone calls).

You will hear from us several times as this process unfolds. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been in the crosshairs for nearly 40 years, and this is the greatest threat it has faced to date. Drilling proponents came close to opening the Refuge to drilling in 2005, but our community of outdoor enthusiasts, businesses, and conservation groups succeeded in fending off that threat. To succeed again, we need everyone to step up like never before.

Thank you for your participation in this important effort.
We are proud to report that to date, 90 of our members and recreation organization friends have joined us in a letter to Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, asking them to keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the budget. Don’t see your name? Add your voice here: