Tell the Interior Dept. to Protect the Arctic

by Melanie Duchin

March 8, 2011

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It’s our time to speak up for the Arctic. The Department of Interior is currently taking public comments on a new five-year oil and gas offshore leasing program until March 31st.

Your comments are so important because the plan currently allows for drilling in Arctic waters, including the fragile and pristine Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are home to polar bears, walrus, whales and seals, as well as Alaska Native peoples who have relied on these waters for their cultural and subsistence needs for millennia.

Now is a great opportunity for all of us to remind the Obama administration that we can’t rely on the oil industry to protect the Arctic marine ecosystem or the species and peoples who depend upon it.

The government must not allow any leasing to Arctic waters. Oil spill prevention is key. If an oil spill were to occur in the Arctic, there is no technology or know-how to clean up a spill in these icy regions.

We have to speak up and make our voices heard during the comment period, before it’s over.

Public comment periods can be confusing at times. There seem to be so many of them for the exact same issue. Let me fill you in on some of the details around this oil and gas leasing process.

– The Secretary of the Interior has to develop a program that outlines lease sales for oil and natural gas production on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 2012-2017.

– Before the plan is finalized, it goes through multiple rounds of public input.

– The first round of public input was open until March 2009. During this comment period, 534,000 comments were received; two-thirds of these comments were pro-drilling.

– Currently, the public can comment on the “second round” of the plan. This is the final opportunity for the public to participate in this process.

– The newly revised plan has removed the potential for lease sales in the Mid- and South-Atlantic as well as part of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico from the Five-Year Program.

– Unfortunately, the plan still includes areas in the fragile Arctic waters of Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Alaska.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster is less than a year behind us. And the oil industry has learned nothing. Shell is currently asking the federal government for permission to expand into new territory—America’s Arctic Ocean. Despite the fact that they don’t have the technology or know-how to clean up a spill in the Arctic (no one does), they continue to say that drilling there is safe. It’s absurd.

You can help. Take action today by telling the Obama administration to prevent dangerous new drilling and we’ll personally deliver your message to the Department of the Interior.

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