About the Arctic Refuge

At the end of 2006, Americans won a major victory for the pristine Arctic Refuge, when Arctic drilling was successfully kept out of both the final budget reconciliation and defense spending bills. Millions of people called on Congress to oppose these underhanded maneuvers, and this time our voices were heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill.

But now it’s a new year, and a new ball game. Once again, the Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH) has taken the unfortunate action of including Arctic drilling in the budget bill for next year. By burying the Arctic drilling language in the federal budget, drilling proponents have shown a blatant disregard for the American public’s desire to keep the Arctic Refuge safe from the destructive impacts of oil development.

Nineteen million acres of wilderness stretch across Northeastern Alaska, home to a stunning diversity of ecological zones, from vast expanses of coastal tundra to boreal forests and spectacular snow-capped mountain peaks. Set aside more than 50 years ago, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, and provides critically important habitat to over 250 species of wildlife, such as wolves, grizzlies, caribou, and migratory birds. However, the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Refuge, also known as the 1002 Area is highly coveted by the oil industry. Unless we act now, Congress could turn this impressive wilderness into a sprawling oil field.

The coastal plain is the biological heart of the Refuge, providing the means of life for many species. It is the most significant on-land denning habitat for polar bears in the United States, and it is a springtime home to the magnificent Porcupine Caribou Herd, who migrate hundreds of miles into the Refuge from Canadian wintering grounds. No alternative habitat exists for this 150,000-strong herd; only the sensitive Arctic Refuge can support them and their newborn calves. The Gwich’in people, who have co-existed with the caribou herd for centuries, depend on this annual migration for their subsistence and culture, and consider the coastal plain to be a sacred ground.

Drilling for oil in this pristine haven for wildlife would disrupt and ultimately destroy one of America’s last remaining truly wild places. In our fact sheets and reports, explore the dangers of drilling, and the alternatives that exist for reducing our dependence on oil. Learn more about the beautiful wildlife and rich cultural history that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge harbors.

Reports and Factsheets

To learn more about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, browse through some of the reports and factsheets listed below.

General Facts

Gwich’in Steering Committee
A brochure detailing the Gwich’in Nation of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada’s longstanding position to seek protection of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Wildlife Value of Arctic Refuge
A summary of the species in the refuge that would be harmed by drilling.

Protecting Coastal Plain Wildlife
Contains lots of helpful info about the wildlife that appear in the refuge.

The Caribou Debate
Addresses issues concerning the Porcupine Caribou herd, comparing it to the Central Arctic herd in Prudhoe, Alaska.

The Arctic Refuge and Energy

Oil Pollution
Illustrates the damages to air, water, and wildlife caused by oil development in Alaska.

Energy Efficiency
Offers some alternative solutions to satisfy United States’s energy needs.

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