Protect the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Daniel Ashe

Goal: To ensure the protection of the Coastal Plain region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by designating it as Wilderness.

To drill or not to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in North Eastern Alaska has been a hotly contested topic for years. Congress has repeatedly blocked efforts to open up the Coastal Plain for oil exploration, yet it continues to be pursued by proponents of drilling.

The coastal plain comprises a 1.5 million acre area of ANWR, which is the last piece of America’s Arctic closed to oil exploration. Apart from the intrinsic value of this refuge, it is critical habitat for polar bears, grizzly bears, caribou, musk oxen and countless other species. Although the Coastal Plain only comprises approximately 10% of the entire refuge, it becomes the veritable heartbeat of the refuge, buzzing with life and activity from the months May through July. This is when the Porcupine Caribou migrate to the Coastal Plain to calve their young. Porcupine Caribou favor the Coastal Plain for the protection it provides from predators like grizzly bears and the fact that the snow melt and subsequent plant growth coincides with their calving period, providing plentiful nourishment for the herd. Members of the Central Arctic Caribou herd also utilize the Coastal Plain once calving is complete. It is a natural and cyclical pattern that is crucial to the health and vitality of many species. The risk of drilling for oil here is far too great and would certainly  have a negative impact on the wellbeing of these herds.

It is time to finally recommend a Wilderness designation to what is arguably one of the last pieces of pristine wilderness in the United States. Designating the Coastal Plain a Wilderness will ensure that it will never be exploited by oil companies. Many species who call the Coastal Plain home have already felt the detrimental effects of a warming climate and habitat loss. Drilling for oil will only exacerbate the situation by disrupting and doing irreparable damage to an already fragile ecosystem.

Furthermore, drilling for oil or exploring for natural gas will not significantly contribute to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which is a fact proponents of drilling here would deny.  The United States should be more invested in exploring alternative energy.

The environmental costs of drilling for oil in the Coastal Plain will far outweigh the benefits.  By signing the petition below you are urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recommend a Wildlife designation for the Coastal Plain area of ANWR.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Daniel Ashe, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

Although Congress has consistently blocked efforts to open up the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and natural gas exploration, it is imperative that the Coastal Plain be protected once and for all.

Please recommend a Wildlife designation for this pristine ecosystem so that its protection is guaranteed. Many species rely on the Coastal Plain habitat. The Porcupine Caribou rely on the Coastal Plain as a place to calve their young and provide nourishment to their entire herd; consequently, opening the area up to oil and natural gas exploration will cause irreparable damage to their ecosystem and will undoubtedly adversely impact the health of the herd. This area has already been affected by climate change and must be protected.

Furthermore, it is believed that oil drilling in this region will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil by any significant measure, but it will certainly destroy an important and valuable habitat forever.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo via Creative Commons

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