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Alaska Wild is worth protectingThe Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a 19.6 million acre wildlife sanctuary in Northeast Alaska, and truly is a crown jewel of America's refuge system. The WILDLIFE REFUGE is covered in rivers, beautiful mountain ranges, diverse wildlife, lagoons and tundra ranging from the foothills of the Brooks Range north to the icy Beaufort Sea. 
The coastal plain region is the most ecologically fragile portion of the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and is under attack from the shit-for-brains who are in charge of the companies who run our government.  Strangely enough, major oil companies are mostly uninterested in Mr. Bush's grand drilling scheme for the Wildlife Refuge, as they are realistically skeptical of the potential for viable oil extraction.
Translated for Mr. Bush=LET GET TO DRILLING! oil drilling in Alaska has impacts
But he could not be more wrong. Drilling for oil in ANWAR is NOT the answer to our energy crisis, rather yet another poorly-hatched, Bush-backed boner of an idea.
Bush's plan to poison/ruin the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would NOT significantly reduce U.S. dependance on foreign oil, and it would not shield us from short-term volatility in the world's oil markets.  It IS a step in the wrong direction to think that drilling for oil in the last largest wilderness would solve any problems. 
What the US really needs is real leadership; pushing conservation, increased fuel-efficiency mandates, real money spent on renewable energy development and becoming a global player once again in addressing Global Climate Change.

History:
(not to be forgotten)
In 1957, then Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton, set aside 8.9 million acreas of coastal plain and mountains as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to protect its "unique wildlife, wilderness and recreation values".
He simoultaneously separated 20 million acres of the North Slope of Alaska for commercial oil and gas leasing. Even in 1957, oil companies had over 100% more land dedicated to their needs than the wildlife was given. But ever since the designations of these vast expanses, oil companies have been asking for more, more more. (Read more at the Defenders of Wildlife.)

Oil spills are nasty, they are very hard to clean up and they happen much more frequently than most folks imagine.

Counter to Karl Rove's macheivellian outlook, most Americans know that drilling in the American Serengeti is a bad, bad idea.
Caribou, polar bears, migratory birds, grizzly bears, muskoxen and Arctic wolves all rely on this area for their very survival, (which is one of the many reasons why the area is a NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.
(For those whom do not understand what a wildlife refuge is: it is NOT an oil exploration zone, its not where you would find a McDonalds, or an Exxon fuel station, but rather, open space, untainted by development, oil rigs, sonar trucks and roads. It is an area where nature and all things wild are allowed to be left alone, unmolested by siesmic exploration trucks, oil spills, slag ponds and trash.)

But Mr. Bush and the corporations that he represents, all want to open up this WILDLIFE REFUGE to OIL DRILLING and EXPLORATION.
For what? For roughly ONE YEAR of US oil production. 
Once you remove the wilderness character it is gone. Once corporations cut roads, install sewage plants, drilling pads, pipelines and housing, the area is forever scarred and wildlife is immediately and negatively impacted.
The Bush-Cheney war machine wants to ruin U.S. public lands. Extracting oil from the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could take ten years or more to bring to market a six month supply of oil. This is assinine. This is one Bushfuct idea.

Get Involved, learn more and speak up!  If you would like to learn more on the subject, visit: Defenders of Wildlife -or-  Biogems

Map maker and now legendary, Ian Thomas, made detailed maps of the calving habits of Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 
Well, he did that until Gale Norton found out that his maps were telling the truth, ... a truth counter to the Bush Backasswards Energy Retro Plan.
Ian Thomas, you are a hero for telling the truth, for not blinking in the face of a corrupt and evil corporate sellout like Gale Norton.
For more info on the map that cost Ian Thomas his job at the USGS, see the article:   Area 1002

In Ian's own words.

"I would very much like access to use any new research data on wildlife in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Specifically I am very interested in the new caribou distribution data that was apparently shown to the Secretary of the Department of Interior, Gale Norton, sometime around Friday 18 March, just after I put my caribou maps onto the Internet. I believe that it is essential that everybody be given free access to this important information at the earliest opportunity. If somebody could please file a Freedom of Information Act request to get this new caribou distribution data, that would be great!

The migration of the Porcupine Caribou herd to and from its calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of Nature's greatest wonders. If we, the richest country on the planet, fail to act to protect this, one of our most precious expressions of biodiversity, what hope is there for any other natural park around the World? And what kind of example are we setting to other nations? I know for a fact that many of the remaining unique and important areas for global biodiversity are also, unfortunately, sitting on top of unexploited oil, diamonds or other mineral resources."

More of Ians Maps

In February of 2005, over one thousand scientists called upon President Bush to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil driling. 
Over 1,000 scientists wrote a collaborative letter to the president and confirmed that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would harm wildlife.
So, how did the president respond to this massive statement?
He wrote more money in his new budget proposal calling for leasing the coastal plain Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas companies.

Mr. Bush, a president by and for the corporations at the cost of the taxpayers.

The Sacking of Science at the Department of the Interior
By JAMIE RAPPAPORT CLARK, Jamie Rappaport Clark, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director in the Clinton administration, is senior vice president for conservation programs at the National Wildlife Federation

WASHINGTON -- At her Senate confirmation hearing, Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton swore that she would use "the best scientific evidence" in making decisions as the steward of the nation's wildlife and wild places. But a disturbing pattern is undermining the secretary's credibility.

Among the most flagrant examples was how she handled a request for information from Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska).
The senator had asked Norton several questions about the proposed opening of the "1002 Area," or coastal plain, of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. Appropriately, Norton turned to her professional staff at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Arctic refuge, to prepare written responses, based on the best scientific evidence, to his questions. Then she wrote the senator. But Norton's letter did not faithfully report her staff's findings. In referring to the 130,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd that has become a symbol of the refuge, Norton's letter said that "concentrated calving occurred primarily outside the 1002 Area in 11 of the past 18 years."

Flat wrong. As her staff told her, there have been "calving concentrations within the 1002 Area for 27 out of the last 30 years."
Norton went on to inform Murkowski, then chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, that "data do not support the hypothesis that oil fields adversely affect caribou productivity."
Her answer ignored the evidence supplied by her own staff.
That evidence shows that reproductive pauses--the years in which females do not produce calves--are longer in areas around oil development in Prudhoe Bay, just west of the Arctic refuge, than in undisturbed areas.
The secretary asserted in another section of the letter that there is no evidence of harm to caribou from oil exploration on Native American lands within the Arctic refuge's coastal plain. Again, she failed to acknowledge, as her staff informed her, that "no studies were conducted" to determine such effects. Norton included in her letter some pro-drilling information culled from a report sponsored by BP Exploration.

Her spokesman claimed the information had been reviewed by peers. But no such review took place.

When Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility revealed these and other discrepancies in the letter, and reporters asked Norton about them, she explained, "We did make a mistake."
It's not the mistakes themselves that are disturbing. Rather, it's their pattern and seeming bias.
The secretary says it is her "responsibility" and that of her department "to show that [Arctic refuge oil development] can be done in an environmentally responsible way."
True, if she were employed by the oil industry. But she's not.

As Interior secretary, her responsibility is to provide the best scientific information on whether or not drilling is compatible with the Arctic environment. Norton has said that the Bush administration supports Arctic drilling legislation that will "impose the strictest possible environmental standards."
Yet, in light of how the secretary herself describes her responsibility, it's troubling to know that such standards would be largely determined by Norton.

According to an analysis of the administration-supported House energy bill and its Arctic drilling provisions by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, "Many decisions relating to the protection of the fish and wildlife resources of the refuge, and the protection of the environment in general, would be committed to the discretion of the secretary, whose choices would be difficult to challenge under the strict standards for judicial review in the House bill."
In essence, the House bill's approach to Arctic well-being amounts to trust Secretary Norton. That's hardly reassuring.
Norton's pattern of misstatements and omissions extends beyond Arctic drilling.
She moved to overturn plans to return grizzly bears to the Northern Rockies wilderness on patently political grounds, without even asking for scientific advice.
Eight of the nation's top wildlife-science organizations have said her "no action" grizzly plan directly contradicts the best scientific evidence.
Similarly, she's advanced a proposal to alter migratory-bird hunting regulations--at the urging of powerful political allies--without regard for scientific input or standard procedures that permit detailed comment.
In another, still unexplained action, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service comments highly critical of proposed rules for removing mountain tops for coal mining were suddenly withdrawn. The withdrawal followed objections from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, an agency also under Norton's supervision, but far more sympathetic to mining interests.

Trusting Secretary Norton is difficult when it increasingly appears that scientific information generated by the Interior Department is impeded or ignored when it runs counter to the political outcomes the secretary supports. The pattern has prompted several leading environmental organizations to ask the Senate to hold hearings on the possible ethical and legal implications of Norton's conduct, specifically concerning the apparent distortions of scientific findings in her letter to Murkowski. The Senate should seriously consider the request. Meanwhile, as they consider the fate of the Arctic refuge, senators would do well to question any advice provided by Norton. Given her penchant for misstatement and for misrepresenting her responsibility, the evidence shows that the secretary's pro-drilling arguments must not be accepted on faith.

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