Statement: Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick introduces landmark Arctic National Wildlife Refuge protection bills introduced in Congress
Philadelphia, PA -- Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, along with Congressman Jared Huffman of California and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, introduced bi-partsian legislation Thursday to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If passed, the "Arctic Refuge Protection Act'' would grant wilderness designation to the Refuge’s coastal plain - the most diverse, and most ecologically sensitive, portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Wilderness designation is the strongest protection in the American public lands system, safeguarding areas from development and preserving them as truly wild places.
The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is truly wild, with hundreds of thousands of caribou and millions of birds from all 50 states, including Pennsylvania, migrating through annually. Polar bears den there during the winter, and the hardy muskoxen live there year-round. The Trump administration made an 11th hour attempt to open the coastal plain, rushing through a lease sale that ended with the signing of leases for nine tracts just a week before inauguration. President Joe Biden immediately issued a temporary moratorium on all leasing activity in the refuge, but to protect the area permanently, Congress must act.
PennEnvironment Conservation Advocate Stephanie Wein issued the following statement:
“This legislation is a no-brainer. It’s twisted to even debate whether to rip up a wildlife refuge with polar bears and caribou, where birds from all 50 states migrate to breed. It’s 2021. Renewable energy is surging and General Motors just announced they are ending their relationship with the combustion engine. We need a clear-minded approach to protecting more nature in this country and not tear up pristine wilderness, and the home of the Gwich’in people, for a little more oil.”
“Permanent protection for the Arctic National Refuge’s coastal plain is long overdue, plain and simple. The porcupine caribou, the polar bears and the muskoxen should live unharassed by seismic equipment and pipelines. The survival of arctic wildlife shouldn’t depend on the price of oil or who inhabits the White House. If any place in our country is deserving of wilderness status, it’s this one. We thank Representative Fitzpatrick and all the bill’s sponsors for taking the long view. We should permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
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