Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been protected from oil and gas drilling for decades. Recently, however, the Trump administration announced their plan to open up the ANWR’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain to oil and gas exploration.
In April 2019, we asked American registered voters whether they support or oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We found that two out of three voters (67%) oppose oil drilling in the ANWR. The number of voters who are strongly opposed to drilling in the ANWR outnumber those who strongly support the policy by nearly four to one. Further, majorities of Democrats (81%) and Independents (64%), and half of Republicans (50%) oppose drilling in the ANWR. Only 17% of Republicans “strongly support” the policy.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to many species, including polar bears and migratory birds, and global warming is already impacting the refuge. According to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, “many species that nest in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain already are experiencing decreasing populations, and many could suffer catastrophic consequences from the effects of global climate change.”
These effects in combination with oil and gas exploration could have several impacts on the ecosystem and habitats in the refuge.