Arctic Wildlife Refuge at risk once more
The future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was put in jeopardy once again last week when Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, included a controversial provision to drill in the Refuge into the Senate version of the budget bill.
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)in an attempt to block the proposal has now introduced an amendment to remove the Arctic drilling provision from the budget which may be voted on as early as Wednesday.
The United States government set aside this wilderness for protection more than 40 years ago under the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower in order to protect its "unique wildlife, wilderness and recreation values." In 1980, President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA, which doubled the size of the Arctic Range and renamed it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This law closed the 1.5 million acres of the refuge's coastal plain to gas and oil exploration unless specifically authorized by Congress.
For more information and a history of the region and its important roll as the "Serengeti" of North America go to the US Fish and Wildlife Service site and read Arctic Refuge: Wildlife.
Yesterday a letter was sent to the President by a committee of scientists expressing their concern that this intrusion into the pristine Arctic refuge would be disastrous to the wildlife, forever damaging the delicate eco system's ability to repair itself and urged a withdrawal from the proposed legislation. It was signed by more than 1000 scientists.