It’s hard to argue with Bill Nemitz’s March 29 column, “On Affordable Care Act fixes, Sen. Collins’ perceived clout came up short.”

Improvements to Obamacare were promised by Republican leadership to Sen. Susan Collins in return for her vote on the tax bill last December. But those provisions were never included in that package, or in subsequent bills. As a reward, the senator was rolled by the Republican leadership, who took her vote for granted.

But it’s worse. The tax bill also included a provision to open up one of America’s greatest national treasures to oil and gas drilling – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

To her credit, Sen. Collins has long opposed drilling there. Most Mainers (65 percent, according to a 2017 Moore Information survey) do not want to see drilling in that wildlife sanctuary, on public land owned by all Americans. The targeted drilling area in the refuge is the vital denning area for polar bears and calving ground for an immense caribou herd. Birds from all 50 states migrate to the coastal plain of the Arctic refuge every summer.

The projected federal revenue from drilling in the Arctic refuge would be extremely modest, given the current energy glut and oil revenue sharing with the state – while the damage to the refuge would be severe and permanent.

So Sen. Collins voted for a tax bill that needlessly shortchanged Americans in several ways that contradict her values, which include respect for America’s most fragile remaining wild lands and wildlife.

But this fight is not over. Congress can and must take action to protect the Arctic, as Americans have for the past six decades.

Jeremy Sheaffer

Maine state director, The Wilderness Society