House Democrats urge banks to not fund drilling in Arctic refuge

House Democrats urge banks to not fund drilling in Arctic refuge

Dozens of House Democrats are urging several major banks not to fund oil drilling and development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), following a similar push by Senate Democrats.

A group of 33 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter spearheaded by Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanHouse Democrats call on Trump administration to lift restrictions on fetal tissue for coronavirus research Democrats call for stimulus to boost Social Security benefits by 0 a month Schiff: Remote voting would not compromise national security MORE (D-Calif.) urging the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley to stop funding such drilling in the refuge.

The letter was sent Thursday and follows an announcement from Goldman Sachs that it would prohibit financing for new drilling or oil exploration in the Arctic, including in the refuge. 

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"Roads, pipelines, gravel mines, airstrips, and other facilities that would be developed to support exploration and development on the coastal plain would fragment habitat, displace wildlife, and undermine the wilderness character of the Refuge. Millions of gallons of fresh water needed to support drilling activities could be drained from fragile Arctic rivers. And oil spills, which already occur on the North Slope, would harm fish and wildlife," the lawmakers wrote. 

"Any development in the coastal plain would permanently destroy this critically important intact ecosystem. We urge you to take a leadership role in recognizing that investing in a project that would threaten human rights and worsen the climate crisis is an expensive risk that’s not worth taking," they added. 

Senate Democrats last month similarly urged banks to not finance drilling in the refuge.  

In response to that past letter, a Wells Fargo spokesperson told The Hill that the company does not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, but may extend credit to companies operating there.

A group of Republican lawmakers from Alaska recently sent their own letter to the banks criticizing Senate Democrats for their letter, calling them "willfully ignorant of the reasonable program we enacted to guide safe production" in the Arctic refuge.

“We are not interested in telling you how to run your business or encouraging you to avoid vital investments in America,” they wrote.

A provision in a 2017 tax bill opened ANWR to drilling following years of debate over the matter.