Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

AlaskaWild: Bush administration pushing for oil drilling in melting Arctic

October 4, 2007
Alaska Wilderness League: Senate Asking Administration to Protect the Polar Bear Seas[] Polar Bear and Cubs; Photo: USFWS Species Act. Calls on the administration to postpone scheduled lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas until potential impacts to polar bear habitat can be determined. This request is significant because of the administration’s aggressive push to open arctic waters to oil and gas development. There are five lease sales planned in the next five years for the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas that together will open more than 73 million acres of arctic waters to industry. America’s two polar bear populations depend on the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas – together known as the Polar Bear Seas – as their primary offshore habitat. As the Polar Bear Seas continue to lose ice, polar bears are forced to travel greater distances to find food and to den. Cases of drowning polar bears and cannibalism have further illustrated the unprecedented challenges facing these arctic inhabitants. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report indicates that both of America’s polar bear populations could disappear by 2050. We must act now to change that outcome. As our nation moves toward implementing forward-looking solutions to reducing global climate change, it is important that the administration does not allow vital polar bear habitat to become overrun with industrial development. If unchecked, loss of habitat from expanded oil and gas development in and near the arctic waters could contribute to the polar bear’s decline. Sen. Kerry will close the letter on Monday, October 15, so please take action now! Contact your senators and urge them to sign the letter and join Sen. Kerry in asking the government to protect America’s Polar Bear Seas.

[] Standing in the Tongass National Forest; photo courtesy of Alaska Rainforest Campaign/ Established in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Tongass celebrated its 100th birthday in September. Well over 100 trees were planted around the country in honor of the Tongass, which, at nearly 17 million acres, is by far our country’s largest national forest. Many tree planting events were organized by Alaska Wilderness League field staff. Read more about these events and see pictures from across the country on our website. Over the years, the Tongass has suffered from excessive clearcut logging practices. More than half of the most important old growth trees in the Tongass have been lost to clearcutting, fracturing critical wildlife habitat and scarring the land. With the Alaska Rainforest Conservation Act, Congress now has the opportunity to protect what remains of these old growth stands.

[] A Wilderness Week lobby team visits ... Please help the efforts to protect wild Alaska by joining Alaska Wilderness League or making a donation. Thanks for keeping Alaska wild. []

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