The National Audubon Society presented Delaware Congressman Mike Castle with an Arctic Refuge Champion award for his dedication to preserving the wilderness and beauty of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska during a special thank-you event near Wilmington.
This recognition comes after a period of unprecedented legislative challenges in Congress directed at opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling. This included back-door drilling amendments tacked on to both the House and Senate annual budget resolutions. A group of House moderates successfully blocked the amendment in September 2005 at the urging of Rep. Castle and his colleagues. In response, the Senate added a similar amendment in December to the Department of Defense appropriations bill, but it too was blocked. Drilling proponents continue to push for legislation and the refuge is expected to remain a legislative target for the rest of the year.
"Rep. Castle has stood up to the relentless pressure of the oil lobby in Washington, which wants to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to drilling. His efforts have helped preserve our nation’s environment for our children and grandchildren," said Betsy Loyless, Audubon’s Senior Vice President for public policy. "With Arctic drilling expected to be a legislative target for the rest of the year, we’ll continue to rely on Rep. Castle’s leadership."
"Mike Castle has steadfastly upheld a long tradition among Delaware’s congressional delegation of protecting the Alaskan wilderness from industrialization while at the same time promoting the development of a progressive national energy policy," said Nicholas DiPasquale, Conservation Chair for Delaware Audubon. "We’re here today to express our gratitude to Congressman Castle for his vigilance on this issue and his support for numerous other conservation initiatives."
Rep. Castle has long-supported solutions that could reduce American dependence on oil. While taking a critical stand opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he strongly advocated creating incentives to make energy conservation easier and more desirable for consumers to better meet the nation’s long-term energy needs.
At the event, Audubon also lauded the Congressman’s strong efforts to preserve wildlife habitats in Delaware. He worked to secure funding to expand the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the Redden State Forest, which are important habitats for a variety of migratory birds, and to create the Delmarva Conservation Corridor. Recently, Rep. Castle has made it a top priority to improve public access for passive recreation to almost 9,000 acres of undeveloped lands along the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.