Stage is Set to Drill in Arctic Refuge

Feature story - March 18, 2005
It's been our greatest protected wilderness, and many of us have fought tooth and nail to keep it that way. But thanks to a recent Senate vote, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is now a significant step closer to becoming an industrial wasteland for the oil industry.

A polar bear in Alaska . (c) Greenpeace/Beltra

For more than two decades, Democrats and some moderate Republicans have been beating back attempts to open the refuge to oil drilling with strong backing from the public. On March 16, 2005, however, the Senate voted to clear the way for oil and gas drilling. The Senate rejected an amendment offered by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) that would have removed the sanctuary drilling revenue from the 2006 budget.

Take Action! Save the Arctic Refuge

An Incalculable Loss

Arctic wildlife is already gravely threatened by global warming, caused by the very industries that intend to pillage the refuge's natural resources. Polar bears and other mammals have less and less access to food sources, as they depend on melting sea ice to provide platforms for hunting and fishing. If the oil industry is allowed to begin drilling, these and other wildlife, such as caribou and migratory birds, will face the prospect of oil spills and the accumulation of noxious pollution that is an inevitable part of oil and gas development.

Drilling in the Arctic is no solution to our energy crisis. While weaning ourselves away from foreign oil is a noble endeavor, the solution does not lie in destroying our country's pristine areas for a few months of oil. Instead, the government should be investing our tax dollars in clean, renewable energy such as solar and wind.

So What Now?

Hope is not lost. First, the Senate must pass its 2006 budget resolution. In the meantime, the House will be passing its own 2006 budget resolution. Then, the two bodies must reconcile their budgets, and both must agree to the Arctic drilling measure.

That means time is short. We need to send a message to Congress now, telling our representatives that this measure is unacceptable. With gas prices at an all-time high and no end in sight to our occupation of Iraq, politicians are scrambling to find ways to meet our energy needs (yet somehow renewable energy sources like wind and solar still elude them). They are feeling the heat to drill for crude oil contained in the refuge - even though experts think there is just a few months supply of oil.

We need to do our part. Our senators and representatives need to know that their constituents care about this pristine wilderness, just as much as the oil industry cares about lining its pockets.

Take Action!

Write your congressional representatives and let them know you won't stand for this sneaky attack on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Urge them to vote against ANY measure that will open "the American Serengeti" to unnecessary drilling. Take action now.

What do YOU think? Give your two cents on the possibility of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by visiting our discussion center.