Press Room

Arctic Drilling in the Tax Plan is Anathema to New York Conservation Groups

Environmental organizations decry efforts to open wildlife refuge to oil and gas drilling, urge New York delegation to oppose harmful legislation.

NEW YORK, N.Y. -  Today, five New York conservation groups give thanks to Congressional members Stefanik, Donovan, and Faso for opposing efforts to open up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for drilling as part of the tax bill, while urging other congressional members to oppose any language in the existing tax package that would allow oil and gas development along its coastal plain.

“Since it was first protected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling has always been a bipartisan effort,” said David Yarnold, President and CEO of the National Audubon Society. “The Representatives who have signed on to this letter have taken an important stand at a critical time to defend the most prolific bird nursery. The birds and people we represent at Audubon thank you and will support you in your fight to ensure language opening the Refuge doesn’t become law.”

“We commend these House Republicans for their leadership in opposing the Senate’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge tax bill scam,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “Opening the irreplaceable Arctic wildlife refuge to drilling has nothing to do with tax reform or raising revenue. It will only destroy vital habitat for imperiled polar bears, migrating caribou, musk oxen, wolves, and millions of migratory birds.”  

“New Yorkers don’t want a tax plan at the expense of one of America’s best remaining stretches of pristine wilderness,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.

“Not only will drilling permanently destroy the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge system, but it won’t even generate anything close to the revenue promised,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“Huge majorities of Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge, and New Yorkers are watching to make sure our members of Congress do what’s right and remove Arctic Refuge drilling from the tax package,” said Sasha Eisenstein, Government Relations Manager of Audubon New York.

Audubon’s infographics demonstrate how the revenue numbers promised don’t add up and paint a picture of the impact drilling could have on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Further, by making oil and gas drilling a primary purpose of the wildlife refuge and mandating an 800,000-acre oil and gas program, the current drilling language threatens the environmental and wildlife protections that typically apply to oil and gas development on federal lands.

Earlier this month, 37 leading Arctic wildlife scientists united to oppose drilling in the Arctic—making clear that wildlife and oil drilling don’t mix in the Refuge.

New York is home to many species of birds that migrate from the Arctic Refuge, including the Tundra Swan, American Tree Sparrow and Semipalmated Sandpiper. More than 200 species of birds depend on the Arctic Refuge, and many migrate through six continents and all 50 states.

The Refuge is an iconic American treasure on par with the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Yosemite. First protected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, leaders from both parties have worked together for generations to stop attempts to open the biological heart of the Refuge—its pristine coastal plain—to oil and gas drilling. (Maps available for download herehere and here.)

New York conservation groups are urging their members and supporters in the Empire State to contact their members of Congress to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

About Audubon New York: As a leading state program of the National Audubon Society, Audubon New York (Audubon NY) leads our network of 50,000 members, 27 local Audubon Chapters, seven sanctuaries and nature centers and our thousands of annual visitors, volunteers, and partners throughout the state. Audubon achieves its mission to protect birds and their habitats by connecting our vast and powerful network along the migratory flyways of the Americas through science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation programs.  Learn more at and @audubonny