Merkley Welcomes Decision from U.S. Department of the Interior to Suspend Leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. Department of the Interior—released the following statement today, after the agency announced that it is suspending leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge until crucial defects in the environmental review process underlying those leases are properly examined:

“After years of denying climate science and buddying up with fossil fuel executives, it’s not surprising that the Trump administration’s environmental review process for leasing applicants in the Arctic Refuge could be riddled with serious errors. I welcome the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to suspend leases granted under that process while these issues are thoroughly investigated, and will continue to do all that I can to ensure that the interests of the American people—not the wish lists of fossil fuel executives—drive our government’s decisions when it comes to drilling on our public lands and waters. These leases need to be stopped and protections for the Arctic Refuge preserved for good.” 

For years, Merkley has been a leading voice in the fight to stop offshore drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Previously, he has championed the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act and the Keep It in the Ground Act, and has teamed up with a group of his colleagues in pressing executives of 22 financial services companies to not insure any oil and gas developments in the Arctic Refuge, citing significant financial risk, catastrophic damage to one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, and the acceleration of climate chaos.