The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 13-10 this month to approve a bill that would allow oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The measure will be added to the Senate’s tax-reform package that is expected to be put to a vote before the end of 2017.
Amanda Rodewald, a professor of ornithology and director of conservation science at Cornell University, researches population and community responses to changes in land use, climate and invasive species. A 2017 fellow of the American Associated for the Advancement of Science, Rodewald says the tundra swan, Pacific loon and northern pintail would be just a few of the more than 200 bird species at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that would be impacted by activities associated with oil development.
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of North America’s last wild landscapes. The refuge provides critical habitat for millions of birds representing over 200 species, including tundra swan, American golden-plover, Pacific loon, northern pintail, Smith’s longspur, and rock ptarmigan. The refuge also is home to over 40 species of mammals and iconic populations of free-ranging caribou, wolves, bears, foxes, and musk-oxen.
“The activities and infrastructure associated with oil development – roads, pipelines, drilling rigs, seismic testing, aircraft and vehicle noise – would forever alter this sensitive ecosystem and harm the habitats upon which so many species depend.”