To the Editor:
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s most majestic places, home to nearly 200 species of migratory birds that migrate to six continents and all 50 states, including our area of Maine and the Porcupine caribou herd.
The Refuge’s coastal plain is also critical onshore denning habitat for the world’s most imperiled polar bear population, the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear. With the passing of the new tax bill in December 2017, the Refuge was opened up to oil and gas drilling, jeopardizing the entire ecosystem and the indigenous Gwich’in people, who have relied on the Porcupine caribou herd for thousands of years.
Thankfully, the House of Representatives just passed HR 1146, a bill to restore protections for the Arctic Refuge, with bipartisan support. We are grateful that our representative Jared Golden was one of those votes.
His leadership respects the guiding principles of our National Wildlife Refuge System by honoring the community of life that supports the Gwich’in and protects the diverse and abundant wildlife that is an essential part of America for future generations.
Maine Alaska Coalition