1995 Scorecard Vote
Located in northeast Alaska, the 19 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is known as "America's Serengeti," due to the unique and unequaled wealth of wildlife in its arctic and sub-arctic ecosystems. Home to hundreds of animal species and millions of migratory birds, the refuge is the most significant polar bear denning habitat in the United States and the primary calving grounds for the 152,000-animal Porcupine caribou herd. The caribou herd provides primary livelihood, and for 10,000 years has been the cultural keystone, for the native Gwich'in people of Alaska and Canada.
Despite the fact that 90 percent of Alaska's Arctic Ocean coastline is already open to development, oil companies and their allies in Congress have been attempting to open the Arctic Refuge's 1.5 million-acre coastal plain for oil and gas development. Pro-development efforts have been defeated repeatedly, as recently as 1991.
Assuming powerful chairmanships of key natural resources committees in this Congress, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) nonetheless chose a backdoor budget maneuver to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development. The Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 13, included as part of the seven-year, $12 trillion budget goal an inflated estimate -- $1.2 billion -- of prospective revenues from oil and gas leasing in the Refuge. This highly speculative figure is not supported by current oil prices or the U.S. Geological Survey data on oil potential. But by constructing a budget that assumes these revenues would be forthcoming, the Budget Resolution prompts the resource committees to include Arctic Refuge development legislation in the Budget Reconciliation Bill (S.1357) -- the follow-up legislation that actually funds the budget. Both the Budget Resolution and the Reconciliation bill are special bills that cannot be filibustered under Senate rules.
On May 24, 1995, Senator William Roth (R-DE) offered an amendment to strike the Arctic Refuge leasing revenues from the Budget Resolution. Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) moved to table (kill) the Roth amendment. The Senate agreed to the Domenici motion 56 - 44. NO is the pro-environment vote.