Outdoor Brands Stand for Permanent Protection of the Arctic Refuge

October 12, 2017

90 companies, organizations, and 90 professional athletes urge Congress to keep Arctic drilling out of the budget

BEND, Ore. (October 12, 2017) – The Conservation Alliance released today a letter signed by 90 outdoor companies and recreation organizations opposing any effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and urging Congress to keep Arctic drilling out of its 2018 budget resolution.

For nearly 50 years, oil companies and their allies in Congress have sought to open the Arctic Refuge’s 1.5-million-acre Coastal Plain to oil drilling. Conservation, scientific, and recreation groups have argued successfully that drilling the Coastal Plain would diminish the entire 19-million-acre refuge. Today, no part of the remote landscape is touched by industrial oil development.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate released its budget plan for 2018. This plan would permit oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge as a means to offset lost revenue from tax cuts. The budget process is the vehicle of choice for supporters of drilling in the Arctic Refuge because, as history suggests, Arctic drilling is unlikely to pass through normal order. The budget resolution requires only 51 votes to pass, and cannot be filibustered. Any other effort to approve drilling in the Arctic would require 60 votes, a feat proven impossible for decades.

Outdoor brands have long sought permanent protection for the Arctic Refuge, one of the largest and most pristine wild landscapes in the U.S.

“Patagonia has fought to protect the Arctic for more than 20 years, and now is a crucial time for this spectacular landscape,” said Lisa Pike Sheehy, Patagonia’s VP of Activism.  “Drilling in the Coastal Plain would diminish the entire refuge, compromising critical habitat for caribou, and undermining the experience of exploring an otherwise pristine place.”

“We’ve been working to permanently protect the Arctic Refuge for decades,” said Ann Krcik, Senior Director of Communications and Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “By protecting these lands from extractive industries, we protect our legacy, the positive impact on our clean air, biodiversity and sense of beauty that makes these lands so unique. We are united with outdoor businesses and recreation groups in asking to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling.”


For decades, conservationists, business leaders, faith groups, and Alaska Natives have sought permanent protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Members of Congress have repeatedly introduced legislation to protect the Coastal Plain as Wilderness, and President Obama formally recommended the embattled area be permanently preserved.

“It is deeply disappointing that, after coming so close to securing permanent protection for the Arctic Refuge, we are once again fighting to defend it from oil rigs,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “It’s troubling that Congress is trying to bury the destruction of our most wild landscape in the budget process.”

In a related effort, 90 professional outdoor athletes submitted a similar letter to Congressional leaders calling out the outstanding recreation opportunities that the Arctic Refuge offers.

As soon as the week of October 16, the Senate could consider amendments to the budget resolution that would remove the Arctic drilling provision. Between now and then, Arctic supporters need to pressure all Senate Democrats to support that provision, and convince three Senate Republicans to join them. If the amendments fail, preserving the Arctic would require that 51 Senators vote no on the budget.

About The Conservation Alliance:
The Conservation Alliance is an organization of like-minded businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas. Membership in the Alliance is open to all companies who care about protecting our most threatened wild places for habitat and outdoor recreation.  Since its inception in 1989, The Conservation Alliance has contributed more than $19 million, awarded 552 grants, helped to protect more than 50 million acres of wildlands; protect 2,991 miles of rivers; stop or remove 29 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase 12 climbing areas. For complete information on The Conservation Alliance, see: www.conservationalliance.com.