April 03,2000

Roth Urges Colleagues to Protect Arctic Refuge

Will Introduce Amendment to Budget Resolution to Prevent Drilling

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today announced that he plans to introduce an amendment to the Budget Resolution to prevent drilling for oil and gas in the 1.5 million acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Roth, a long time opponent of development of the Refuge, will introduce the amendment Tuesday when the Senate takes up the FY 2001 Budget Resolution.

Receipts from leasing the Coastal Plain for oil and gas development are included in the revenue estimates for the Budget Resolution. Roth's amendment would eliminate this as a source of revenue. The result of the Roth amendment would be to lower the non-Social Security surplus by an equivalent amount.

"Ninety five percent of Alaska's vast north Slope is already open to oil exploration or drilling. Independent scientists predict drilling the last five percent will cause irreparable harm to the landscape while doing virtually nothing to reduce our dependence on imported oil or help lower gas prices. Based on the most recent U.S. Geological Survey estimates of economically recoverable oil, production from the Arctic Refuge would never meet more than 2% of our oil needs at any given time," Roth stated.

"This area is often called 'America's Serengeti' because of its abundance of wildlife. The coastal plain is home to nearly 200 species of wildlife, including denning polar bears, grizzlies, rare musk oxen, and million of migratory birds. The Arctic Refuge coastal plain is also the site of one of the world's most awe-inspiring wildlife spectacles -- the annual gathering of nearly 130,000 caribou. Each summer, the Porcupine River caribou herd arrives on the Arctic Refuge, giving birth to over 30,000 new calves," Roth stated.

"Protection of this irreplaceable landscape has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support since President Dwight Eisenhower created it in 1960. I hope that my Senate colleagues will join me to provide permanent protection for this vital piece of our natural heritage."