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MARCH 6, 2003
12:00 AM
CONTACT:  U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG)
Liz Hitchcock: 202-547-9707

No Drilling! No Spilling! Save the Artic Refuge;
Statement of Gene Karpinski, Executive Director On the Introduction of the Senate Arctic Wilderness Bill
WASHINGTON - March 6 - Today's introduction of the Arctic Wilderness bill, coming on the heels of last year's historic Senate vote against drilling in the Arctic and last month's Arctic budget letter signed by six moderate Republican Senators, sends a strong message to the White House and the oil industry - it makes no sense to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

It makes no sense to ruin one of America's last wild places for what amounts to six months worth of oil and gas-- oil that wouldn't even reach American consumers for another 10 years.

It makes no sense for the Bush Administration to think that drilling in the Arctic Refuge is a substitute for an energy policy. The fact is that there is a better way. We can promote renewable energy. We can make the cars we drive right now go much farther on a gallon of gas.

It makes no sense to destroy land that is sacred to the Gwich'in, Native Americans who have lived adjacent to the coastal plain for thousands of years. Protecting the Refuge means that the Gwich'in can maintain their way of life and hunt the caribou uninterrupted by the spills and explosions that plague the existing oil fields of Prudhoe Bay.

Yesterday's release of the National Research Council Report on the cumulative impacts of oil and gas drilling on Alaska's North Slope is just the latest reminder that oil drilling and wilderness don't mix. The report documents the negative environmental and cultural impacts of 30 years of oil drilling in the area near Prudhoe Bay, noting that, "The structures and activities also violate the spirit of the land, a value that is reported by some Alaska Natives to be central to their culture. Given that most of the affected areas are not likely to be rehabilitated or restored to their original condition, those effects will persist long after industrial activity has ceased on the North Slope."

It makes no sense to allow an industry with a track record of destruction, damage, and drilling to get their hands on America's Arctic.

The American people understand and appreciate the wilderness and human values supported by the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. Independents, Democrats and Republicans alike strongly oppose drilling there, and continue to support protecting this one of a kind American treasure from oil and gas drilling.

We hope the Bush Administration gets the message: Arctic drilling just doesn't make sense.

U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations.


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