The Senate budget resolution to be voted on in committee this week instructs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to raise $1 billion in revenues, which the committee intends to do by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not a new idea, but is a controversial one. In the past 30 years, Congress has voted nearly 50 times on whether or not to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, yet our nation’s largest refuge remains protected today thanks to the overwhelming support of the American people. A recent study by the Center for American Progress shows that two-thirds of Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge, and a majority are “strongly opposed.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska seems far away, but is an important part of our ecosystem in North Dakota. Many migratory animals that make their home in or pass through North Dakota use the Arctic Refuge to raise young, feed or rest. The refuge also supports an impressive diversity of arctic and subarctic wildlife, including all three species of North American bears — black, polar and grizzly.

I urge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to oppose any attempt to open this sacred wild land to oil development. I also urge her to show her support as well by co-sponsoring the Arctic Refuge Wilderness bill.

God has given us this land to protect and preserve. Let us lay aside greed and work together to ensure a safe and healthy environment for God’s planet and people.

Rev. Gretchen Deeg, Bismarck