The Alaska Wilderness League last week applauded a bipartisan coalition of Senators for introducing legislation to permanently protect the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The legislation, which seeks to designate the fragile 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain of the Refuge as statutory wilderness, was introduced today by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT).

"We praise the leadership of Senator Lieberman and the other co-sponsors for coming together to support legislation that permanently protects Alaska's most threatened wilderness from the ravages of oil development," said Cindy Shogan, Alaska Wilderness League's executive director. "Sacrificing the crown jewel of our national wildlife refuge system for a six-month supply of oil that might be available 10 years from now is unconscionable."

The Arctic Refuge protects some of America's most spectacular wilderness and wildlife, including polar bears, musk oxen, caribou, grizzlies, and millions of migratory birds. The Gwich'in people, a subsistence culture, consider the Coastal Plain, which serves as the calving grounds for the 130,000 migratory Porcupine River caribou herd, as "the sacred place where life begins."

Last week's announcement comes on the heels of a National Academy of Sciences Report that outlines the adverse impacts that are a result of 30 years of oil and gas development on Alaska's North Slope.

Sponsors and co-sponsors of this bill are hearing the voices of the American people loud and clear. Recent polls have demonstrated that a majority of Americans want to keep the Refuge wild and free from development. The bipartisan wilderness legislation already enjoys the support of 25 Senators.