Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Oil Drilling in Alaska

Sen. John Kerry has sent out an e-mail to his online community about the goings-on in Congress related to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge up in Alaska.

(r)epublicans are obsessed with tapping the two or three years worth of oil up there and they don’t care what havoc they must visit upon a piece of pristine nature to do it.

Kerry says things are getting urgent:

“It’s now or never if we want to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the White House and [r]epublican leaders in Congress are stacking the odds against us. They’re using underhanded procedural tactics to sneak through legislation to destroy the Arctic Refuge. The vote will occur this week in the Senate and next week in the House of Representatives.”

Kerry would like you all to write or call your representatives and tell them what’s up with the “refuge” part of the Arctic National Wildlife...Refuge.


“Refuge” according to Webster’s Dictionary is defined as, “shelter of protection from danger, trouble, etc.”

So in this case, we’re talking about wildlife and fauna mostly untouched by the poison of our civilization. Something that’s, lamentably, a museum piece for its rarity despite the planet’s size. There are few such places left and this one is worth preserving.

Kerry said he is working on this measure with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) on stopping the latest effort.

Having been stymied the past few years by California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) and her filibustering of the issue, now the (r)epublicans have shoe-horned their idea into a budget resolution, which cannot be filibustered.

Kerry added that the efforts of his online community (his e-mail list) were so effective last go-round that proponents of drilling complained about it on the Senate floor.

highwayscribery urges you to make it happen again.

Here’s a few more things the senator had to say about the refuge:

“The [reserve’s] 19 million acres comprise one of the last places on earth where an intact expanse of arctic and subarctic land remains protected.

“An irreplaceable treasure, the Arctic Refuge is home to caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, golden eagles, snow geese and more. Millions of other birds use the Arctic Refuge to nest and as a critical stage area on their migratory journeys.

“The Arctic Refuge supports more than wildlife. For a thousand generations, the Gwich’in people of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada have depended on it and lived in harmony with it. To them, the Arctic Coastal Plain is sacred ground.”

There’s plenty of oil money being made right now with gas hovering at the $3-per-gallon mark, and too few solutions for a future without fossil fuels.

Let’s make sure our energy policy and plans take us down a path to sustainability instead of destruction.


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Senator Cantwell's response to ANWR:

Cantwell Fights to Stop Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge

Flawed Proposal Would Not Reduce Gas Prices or Confront America’s Oil Addiction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) fought to stop oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Wednesday. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Cantwell’s anti-drilling amendment sometime Thursday.

“This is about more than just protecting one of America’s last pristine natural treasures,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Using backdoor tactics to destroy America’s last great wild frontier will not solve our nation’s energy problems and will do nothing to lower skyrocketing gas prices.”

Proponents of the plan claim that drilling in the Refuge can be done in an environmentally benign way, but evidence from adjacent Prudhoe Bay indicates otherwise. According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Prudhoe Bay oil fields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have caused an average of 504 spills annually on the North Slope since 1996. Through last year, those spills included more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substances including diesel, crude oil, and hydraulic oil.

“This is about priorities,” said Cantwell. “This is about harnessing American ingenuity to confront our dangerous oil addiction. We need to give our children a future less dependent on fossil fuel. According to the Energy Department’s latest analysis, even if oil companies drill in the wildlife refuge and hit peak production, it will only lower gas prices by a penny per gallon.”

Earlier this year, the Senate Budget Committee included in its version of the Fiscal Year 2006 budget resolution provisions that would pave the way to arctic drilling. Cantwell’s amendment would strike language authorizing artic drilling from the Budget Reconciliation bill, undoing this irresponsible manipulation of the budget process and encouraging an honest and open debate of the issue.

Last March, Senator Cantwell led a Senate floor debate to try and strip this provision from the budget resolution. Unfortunately, that effort failed on a 49 to 51 vote. Since then, Cantwell has continued her steadfast opposition to this misguided drilling proposal, which would bring irreversible damage to this unique and fragile ecosystem and put the entire region at risk for a catastrophic oil spill.

Established by President Eisenhower in 1960, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is a diverse and fragile ecosystem. Proponents of drilling want to open up the most biologically diverse part of the Refuge, the coastal plain, to oil exploration. This area serves as a critical habitat for caribou, musk ox, swans, snow geese and numerous other species. It is also home to the 150,000 animal Porcupine caribou herd, critically important to the culture and the subsistence lifestyle of the Native American Gwich'in tribe in Northeast Alaska and Canada.