Friday, March 25, 2005

Save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!

(this was posted by macho for "Girl at River" on Friends of Grassy Narrows)

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the calving and nursery grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Desecration of the Arctic Refuge would cause serious detriment to caribou and the people of the Gwich'in Nation who have depended on the caribou since time immemorial. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must remain off limits to any oil or gas development and must be put in permanent protection status as Wilderness.

No matter how many times capitalists and government try to advance this plan, the facts haven't changed: drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge would ruin one of America's last wild places for what the U.S. Geological Survey and oil company executives concede is only a few months of oil, oil that would not be available for a decade. The American people don't want that, and they've made that clear. But proponents of drilling in the Arctic Refuge have a much broader agenda. Just last year, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) told a group of high-ranking Republicans that the controversy over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a "symbolic" debate about whether or not oil and gas drilling should be allowed in pristine wild areas across the country.

The coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is one of America's last wild places. Caribou, musk oxen, wolves, polar, brown and black bears, and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds rely on the wilderness habitat that the Refuge provides. The Gwich'in people, Alaska natives who live near the Refuge, depend on the caribou. For 20,000 years, their culture and way of life have been intimately bound up with the Porcupine River Caribou Herd.

All this with the chance of finding little or no oil. At current rates of consumption, there is at best 6 months worth of oil in the Refuge.

Sneaking Arctic Refuge drilling into the federal budget would allow drilling supporters to sidestep the normal Senate process. Budgets cannot be filibustered, so a simple majority of 51 votes could pass an Arctic Refuge provision. The budget process also limits time allowed for debate; controversial proposals attached to the budget do not receive the full examination they deserve. The federal budget bill is exactly the wrong place for Congress to decide the fate of the Arctic Refuge. Including Arctic Refuge drilling in the budget would be a bad fiscal decision as well. Since the amount of oil and the level of oil industry interest in drilling the Refuge are still unknown, any figures describing revenues derived from the sale of the oil are entirely speculative. Especially in these economic times, it is risky business to have such assumptions included in the national budget.

Take action! Write or call your Senator and Representative today. The Capitol switchboard number is 202-224-3121. And, if you want to do more, write a letter to the editor. Let them know that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a bad idea, it is not the way to solve America's need for energy, and controversial policy decisions are not supposed to be made in the budget bills. To drill in the Refuge will destroy forever another. Native peoples' ''right to a way of life.'' For more information, contact the Gwich'in Steering Committee at (907) 458-8264 or visit our web site: .

The Gwich'in Nation of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada have a unified longstanding position to seek permanent protection of "Iizhik Gwats'an Gwandaii Goodlit" The Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The coastal plain is the primary birthplace and nursery for over 120,000-member Porcupine Caribou Herd. Our Gwich'in villages are located along the migratory paths of the caribou. The area where we live is virtually the same as the range of the caribou and our villages are strategically set along the migratory routes of the caribou.

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