House Giveaway to Big Oil Jeopardizes America's Wildlife

Bill would open up millions of acres of protected offshore federal waters and sell off 400,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Ringed Seal

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed HR 3408, the natural resources section of the transportation bill. The bill would open up millions of acres of protected offshore federal waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, and in Alaska's salmon factory, Bristol Bay. It requires the Interior Department to sell 125,000 acres of commercial oil shale. The bill also mandates the selling off 400,000 acres of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas companies and requires the building of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

"When your public approval rating shrinks smaller than your shoe size, it's a good time to start siding with the American public instead of the extreme agenda of oil lobbyists. This bill would recklessly jeopardize some of America's most iconic wildlife, from the Arctic's polar bears to the Atlantic's humpback whales, while forcing the approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline even before a route is determined. While the Senate is doing the hard work of crafting a bipartisan compromise, House Republican leadership seems content to send a belated valentine to Big Oil that has no chance of becoming law.

"And for what? Oil drilling is currently at an eight-year high, yet drivers are paying gas prices that are near all-time highs. And even under the Congressional Budget Office's best-case scenario, it would take years for drilling revenues to produce less than one percent of the revenues needed to fund the overall transportation bill. As the natural resources we all value are put at risk, the benefits are concentrated in the hands of the few, like the five biggest oil companies that posted $135 billion in profits last year alone."

Cross-posted from NWF's Media Center.

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