Statement of Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
“We are deeply disappointed in Senator Susan Collins’ vote for the final tax bill, which overturns decades of protection from oil drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). This vote betrays the will of the majority of Mainers, and reverses Senator Collins’ 20-year record of opposing efforts to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. While we respect the work Senator Collins has done in the past to protect Maine’s and the nation’s environment, this vote for a huge give-away of the Arctic to the oil companies is tragic in so many ways. By the same token, we applaud Senator King for voting against this tax bill.
“The consequences of oil drilling in ANWR would be stark and permanent, destroying the wilderness with seismic blasting and hundreds of miles of pipelines, pumping stations, and other infrastructure. As U.S. dependence on foreign oil is now at the lowest levels since 1970, and continues to decrease, there is no reason or excuse for allowing the oil industry to drill in this fragile area.
“For 30 years, the Arctic Refuge has been protected as the most remote and pristine wilderness in our nation, and has remained protected because of the support of the American people and, in the past, lawmakers such as Senator Collins. Despite today’s disappointing vote, our fight to protect the Arctic will continue. We will join with organizations, lawmakers, and people from across the nation to explore every avenue to prevent irreversible damage from oil drilling in this last great American wilderness.
“Our goal is to make sure that today’s give-away to the oil industry and its allies in Congress will be short lived. There are many steps in the process before oil extraction can begin on the coastal plain, and ultimately, it will be an economic decision. At current oil prices, drilling in remote frontier areas of the Arctic may not be economically viable. While today’s vote was a setback, it has only heightened our resolve to defend this remaining pristine piece of America’s natural heritage.
“We are relieved that the final bill will continue incentives to develop renewable energy sources, and preserves current tax credits for electric vehicles, wind, and solar.
“Mainers who respect Senator Collins have every right to be disappointed with her vote for this tax bill, for many reasons. The provision opening up the Arctic to oil drilling should never have been part of this bill. Overturning decades of protection of the Arctic has nothing to do with tax reform.”