ARCTIC REFUGE TIMELINE: A History of Advocacy in Action
Efforts to protect the coastal plain from oil and gas drilling have been consistent through the decades. From 1981 - 1998 a bill to designate the coastal plain as wilderness was introduced annually but was never brought to a vote in committee or on the floor of the House. Just as relentlessly, pro-drilling Members of Congress and the oil lobby have pushed to open the Refuge. Below is a timeline of those efforts, thwarted time and again by strong grassroots pressure to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
2011—Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced HR 139, the Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act, which would designate the coastal plain of the Refuge as wilderness.
2007—Bipartisan legislation is introduced to designate the Arctic as wilderness to permanently protect it. The Bush FY2008 budget proposal calls for drilling the Arctic Refuge to raise revenues.
2006—New bills to open the refuge are introduced in the House and Senate, with one passing the House and awaiting the Senate’s consideration.
2005—A provision allowing drilling is included in the annual budget but eventually removed after moderate Republicans refuse to vote for any budget that includes such a provision. Drilling authorization is also included in an energy bill and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but is again stopped by the U.S. Senate. A last-minute provision to allow drilling is added to the annual defense appropriations bill, but meets with a filibuster in the Senate and is eventually removed.
2004—The U.S. House of Representatives was unable to muster enough support to attach a provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the "slimmed down" version of their energy bill. No action taken on the issue in the U.S. Senate.
2003—U.S. House of Representatives includes provision opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling to the 2003 energy bill. The Senate votes to keep drilling provisions out of their version of the energy bill. A House-Senate Conference Committee meets to craft a final energy bill that could meet the approval of both the House and Senate. The initial bill crafted by the leaders includes the House-passed drilling provisions. At the last minute, the provisions are stripped from the Committee's bill. The House approves the final energy bill as passed by the Conference Committee. The Senate - by a mere two votes - stops the bill from moving forward days before Congress adjourns for the year.
2002—The U.S. Senate votes to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling, and keep the 2001 House-passed provision out of the final energy bill.
2001—U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Legislation passed as part of the House's overall energy bill. Moves to Senate for action.
2000—The Wilderness bill S.867 garners 28 cosponsors, but again, was not debated in Congress.
1999—The Wilderness bill received a record 165 cosponsors but was not heard in committee.
1998—Wilderness bill receives a record 151 cosponsors but is blocked from committee action by opponents.
1995—A rider permitting oil development on the coastal plain is attached to an appropriations bill. President Clinton vetoes the bill.
1991—A bill to open the coastal plain to oil development is narrowly defeated on the Senate floor.
1987—The US Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Reagan Administration's Interior Secretary Don Hodel, issues a report supporting oil exploration on the coastal plain.
1980—The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) expands the area to over 19 million acres and redesignates it a national wildlife refuge. ANILCA prohibits oil and gas development on the coastal plain, but allows the opportunity for a future act of Congress to permit it.
1960—The Arctic National Wildlife Range is created by President Eisenhower.