Senators Consider Budget that Threatens Arctic Refuge – Call them TODAY

Alaskan oil drilling

THIS WEEK, the full Senate is considering the Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 budget. Last Thursday, October 5, 2017, the House approved the budget, which calls for billions of dollars in new revenue from selling oil and gas leases. That same day, the Senate Budget Committee approved a budget that opens drilling in some of the untouched wilderness in northern Alaska. [1]

URGENT: Take Action Now!

1. CALL your Senators

Visit the Senate Website to look them up here or call the Capitol Hill Switchboard and ask to be connected to them: (202) 224-3121. If you’re calling your own Senator, let them know you are a constituent–one of the people they were elected to represent. If you call other Senators, you can say you’re calling as a concerned citizen.

The calls go into the record and the Senators are notified. Even a few calls makes a big difference.

If no one answers, leave a message on their voicemail. If their D.C. voicemail is full, try calling one of their state office locations.

2. SIGN this petition to your Senators

This petition includes some specific information about the Arctic Refuge and why it’s so important to protect it.

A few compelling reasons include protecting “the caribou, muskoxen, wolves, 200 species of migratory birds, and polar bears calling it home. And for the “Gwich’in Nation, whose home has been the Arctic since time immemorial, [who] have called for permanent protection of the birthing grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd for over 30 years.” [2

Why is this URGENT?

Senator Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young, both of Alaska–ironically, perhaps–want to move forward with oil extraction in the 2018 budget resolution. Under Senate rules this only needs a simple majority to pass–instead of the 60-vote majority normally required to get bills through the Senate.

Why is Arctic drilling so dangerous?

When President Obama created Arctic Refuge protections at the end of 2016, the Interior Department posted a press release about the issue.

The Interior Department said this:

Risks associated with oil and gas activity in the remote, harsh and undeveloped Arctic are not worth taking when the nation has ample energy sources near existing infrastructure.”

and

“… Oil spill response and clean-up raises unique challenges in the Arctic and a spill could have substantial impacts on the region, particularly given the ecosystem fragility and limited available resources to respond to a spill.” [3][4]

From their fact sheet:

“If lease sales were to occur and [oil] production take place, it would be at a time when the scientific realities of climate change dictate that the United States and the international community must be transitioning its energy systems away from fossil fuels.” [3][5]

More to consider – People are directly impacted by the drilling

Alaskan Natives who live off the coast of the Chukchi Sea worry about how the drilling and its impacts will affect their way of life. [6] Consider Kivalina, a community on a barrier reef island in the northwest of Alaska. The island already suffers dramatic effects from erosion due to climate change. [6][7]

They face hunger challenges too:

The permafrost is thawing and ice cellars that have historically provided year-round freezing for meat supplies are now melting “at unusual times of the year.” Besides that, the sea ice is melting. Says lifelong Kivalina resident, Russel Adams, Sr., “The sea ice used to be twelve feet thick, and there was just one lead. Now it is four feet thick and there are many leads.” [6]  (Leads are large fractures in the ice.)

Why is Taking Action NOW so important?

Environmentalists are concerned that attaching the Arctic drilling measure to the budget  “is a way of dodging public debate on the controversial proposal.” Lydia Weiss, Government Relations Director for the Wilderness Society, says “This issue has been debated for more than 30 years, and to sneak it into a bill that can’t be debated is the kind of abuse of power and process that Americans so loathe from the Congress.” [1]

You know what to do now.

CALL TO ACTION

1. CALL your Senators

Visit the Senate Website to look them up here or call the Capitol Hill Switchboard and ask to be connected to them: (202) 224-3121.

2. SIGN this petition to your Senators

This petition includes some specific information about the Arctic Refuge and why it’s so important to protect it.

YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

References:

1. http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/heard-one-gop-pushing-for-oil-drilling-arctic-refuge

2. https://www.addup.org/campaigns/tell-congress-to-protect-the-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge

3. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/what-trump-can-and-cant-do-to-reverse-president-obamas-arctic-protections/

4. https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-jewell-applauds-presidents-withdrawal-atlantic-and-arctic-ocean-areas-future

5. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/briefer-on-ocsla-withdrawal-authority_20161121_0.pdf

6. https://thinkprogress.org/drilling-in-the-arctic-perspectives-from-an-alaska-native-2eece20804bc/

7. https://toolkit.climate.gov/case-studies/relocating-kivalina

 

 

 

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