Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, today issued the following statement after passage of H.R.1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act. This legislation would restore federal protections keeping oil and gas development out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. Congressman Lowenthal joined bill author Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) to introduce the bill in February 2019.
“The coastal plain of the ANWR--often called the ‘biological heart’ of the Arctic Refuge--is not just a national treasure. It is a fragile and pristine ecosystem that is under immediate threat from industrial exploitation and requires our protection.
“In addition to its biologic and ecological importance, the ANWR coastal plain is also a sacrosanct place for the Gwich’in people. A central part of their history and their way of life, the Gwich’in people call the coastal plain “the sacred place where life begins.
“Unfortunately, for too long, the oil and gas industry have seen this pristine wilderness as nothing more than a promising cash cow, with billions of dollars of oil just waiting to be drilled and sold. The oil and gas industry's Republican enablers in Congress slipped an ANWR drilling mandate into their 2017 tax bill. There was no separate bill, there was no debate, and there was no vote on opening this wilderness up.
“There was no need--and there is still no need--to turn this fragile wilderness into the newest Arctic oil and gas field. With H.R.1146, we are righting this wrong, to restore the protections for this fragile wilderness, and protect a tribe’s way of life.
“I am proud to support this bill, proud to vote for it, and proud to join my colleagues in passing it as part of our continuing fight to protect our environment from unnecessary and unrealistic development.”