VIDEO: Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Among the many troubling elements of Republican budget that passed in the Senate last week was language that can be used to give fast-track authority to sell off Americans' public lands. In order to make up for the massive $1.5 trillion their proposed tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would add to the national debt, Republicans passed an amendment to their budget on a party line vote to raise an additional $1 billion-including potentially selling off our public lands.
This measure puts the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge directly in the crosshairs. The Arctic Refuge is among the most unspoiled places left on this earth--where caribou still migrate across the landscape by the tens of thousands. I've had the privilege of seeing this great wilderness myself. I've witnessed its polar bears, Dall sheep and moose. I've discussed its importance with native Gwich'in elders in Arctic Village and interested New Mexicans who may or may not see it with their own eyes in this lifetime.
Last week, outside the Capitol, I spoke out against opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling. I hope you can take a moment to watch my remarks here.
I also introduced an amendment to strike this fast-track authority that can be used to sell our lands and reject the opportunistic politicians and their financiers, like the Koch Brothers, who want to dispose of America's national forests, conservation lands, and open spaces. America's public lands are part of the fabric of our democracy, and they support our way of life and our local economies. It is sickening that we are even considering privatizing or selling off these lands to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.
Although we were unable to stop Senate Republicans at this step, the fight will now go to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. As a member of that committee, you can count on me to do everything in my power to oppose any effort to sell off our public lands or open up the crown jewel of our nation's wildlife refuge system to drilling. There are places where oil and gas exploration is appropriate. In my view, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will never be one of them.
United States Senator