The History

The debate over opening ANWR to drilling gained headway nationally in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter set aside less than eight percent of the refuge for potential oil and gas development. This section of ANWR became known as the 1002 area, after a section of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Since then, Alaskans and the oil and gas industry have fought unsuccessfully to open the 1002 area to exploration.



President Eisenhower sets aside 8.9 million acres of tundra in the northeastern corner of Alaska as a protected wildlife refuge.


Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) is signed into law. The Act gives Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation surface rights to 69,000 acres within the refuge.


President Carter signs the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), expanding the refuge to 19.3 million acres and renaming it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The law mandates that potential oil reserves in the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain (1002 area) be considered for development, but only if Congress authorizes it.


The Chandler Lake land exchange agreement conveys subsurface ownership of Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation lands to Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

Approximately 1,180 line miles of 2D geophysical data acquired in ANWR.


Draft Environmental Impact Statement for ANWR exploration published.

Dept. of Interior recommends to Congress that the coastal plain be open for drilling exploration.


President Clinton tries to create a National Monument of ANWR under the Antiquities Act, but is unsuccessful.

Congress, using the budget process, authorizes oil drilling in the coastal plain of ANWR.

President Clinton vetoes the Balanced Budget Act, and with it Congress’ ANWR drilling authorization.


The U.S. Geological Survey released the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1002 Area, Petroleum Assessment, 1998. The agency’s mid-range estimate of oil in place rises from 13.8 billion barrels to 20.7 billion barrels.


The House repeatedly approves drilling in the refuge as part of broad energy legislation, but the Senate rejects drilling, unable to overcome a Democratic-led filibuster.


Senator Ted Stevens includes ANWR provision into Defense Appropriations bill.

House passes Defense Appropriations bill with ANWR provision by vote of 308-106.

Senate fails to achieve 60 votes needed (58-41) to prevent filibuster. ANWR provision dropped from Defense Appropriations bill.


President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell release USFWS Comprehensive Conservation Plan on ANWR two years late. It calls for wilderness designation of ANWR in violation of NEPA and ANILCA.

Bills are introduced in the House and Senate to designate the ANWR coastal plain as wilderness, which would permanently prevent drilling in the 1002 area.


The House votes on the Arctic Refuge Wilderness bill. It does not pass.


The U.S. House adopts a fiscal 2018 budget resolution; instructs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to delivery legislation that creates $1 billion in new revenue between 2018 and 2027.

Legislation that includes an ANWR drilling provision passes out of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 13-10.

Congress approves legislation to open Alaska’s 1002 area to oil and gas development.

President Trump signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes authorization for responsible development in the non-wilderness 1002 area of ANWR.