Gwich’in Nation Urges Congress to Repeal 2017 Tax Act’s Arctic Refuge Leasing Mandate in Reconciliation Bill

July 27, 2022


Gwichin leaders responded to a budget reconciliation agreement brokered by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) by urging members of Congress to use the amendment process to add a provision repealing the leasing mandate for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

“Any legislation claiming to take climate action must include protecting sacred lands in the Arctic Refuge from drilling,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwichin Steering Committee. “Congress has the power right now to repeal that destructive mandate and prevent the carbon pollution it would cause, and instead protect Arctic health, sacred lands, the Porcupine caribou, and our way of life.” 

Congress included a leasing mandate for the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge in the 2017 Tax Act. The first lease sale on Jan. 6, 2021, drew no major oil and gas companies and failed to bring in even a fraction of 1 percent of the promised revenue. 

All major banks in the U.S. and Canada, along with 18 other international banks, have now said they would not finance drilling in the Arctic Refuge; and 14 international insurers and the U.S. insurer AIG have said they would not insure any drilling in the Arctic Refuge.  

Three oil companies have backed out of their interests in the Arctic Refuge completely, despite owning leases, including Regenerate Alaska, the only oil company to bid on the Jan. 6, 2021 lease sale; and Chevron and Hilcorp, the two oil companies that held decades-old leases on lands within the coastal plain and know the results of a secret test well drilled in 1987. 

The Gwichin Nation has formally called for protections of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge in a resolution first passed in 1988. Earlier this month, on the first full day of the Gwichin Gathering in Old Crow, Yukon, Canada, it again reaffirmed that resolution calling for the U.S. President and Congress to “recognize the rights of the Gwichin to continue to live our way of life by prohibiting development in the calving and post-calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.”


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