Photo by Victor Benard

Congress has passed a tax package that includes a provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

As dispiriting as this, you should know that our fight isn’t yet over. A number of regulatory, scientific, political, and infrastructure-related hurdles must still be cleared before lease plots can be made available for sale. This whole process will likely take years and we will persist every step of the way.

Although the fix was in on this round, we upheld Audubon’s six-decade-long commitment to the Arctic Refuge. We broke through the media clutter at a time when news cycles are shorter than the attention span of a two-year-old:

  • We earned prominent coverage in the New York TimesThe Washington PostHuffPostCNNNational Geographic, and even TeenVogue, which has surprisingly emerged as a voice for the next generation.
  • Across the Audubon network, many of you fired on all cylinders holding special events, meeting directly with your members of Congress, and encouraging your supporters to send emails and make calls. Thank you for these efforts and for making sure Audubon’s voice was heard at this crucial time.
  • We recruited 12 Republican members of the House to sign a letter publicly urging their Senate colleagues to remove the Arctic from the tax bill. We also elevated voices former Republican members of Congress Boehlert and Kelly and prominent South Carolina Republican Party leader Dr. Hartley.

We are not sanguine about this outcome. But it has only focused us on what we need to do to prevent its implementation. More than 200 species of birds, including the Long-tailed Duck, Tundra Swan, Snowy Owl, and Northern Pintail all depend on the Arctic Refuge. Because just like these birds, who are remarkably resilient and driven in their migrations, we will persevere in the face of a changing environmental landscape.

For 119 years, generations of Audubon volunteer leaders have been called to confront feather-hunters, DDT and climate change. This new fight is ours and, with your support and help, we’ll prevail.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to protecting birds and the important places they depend on.