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E-M:/ Stop Drilling in Arctic and Under Great Lakes

Enviro-Mich message from "David Ross" <ROSS@nwf.org>

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Decisions are imminent on proposals to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and beneath the Great Lakes in Michigan.  Please contact Senator Carl Levin about the Arctic Refuge and Governor John Engler about the Great Lakes and let them know that these are two places too special to risk.

August 2001

Dear Michigan Conservationist:

Two of our country's most special places are under imminent threat: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Great Lakes.  Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed a "dirty energy bill" that includes plans to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling.  The U.S. Senate, which will vote any day now, holds the key to this unique ecosystem's future.  In addition, on September 14, a decision is expected on whether to end the moratorium on oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes in Michigan.  Only immediate public outcry can save these special places. 

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
There are places in which carefully controlled oil exploration is appropriate.  But the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not one of those places.  The coastal plain of the Refuge -ground zero for proposed  drilling * is the biological heart of the Refuge.  It is a critical resting point for more than 135 bird species from four continents during their annual migrations.  It is also the year-round home to musk oxen, wolverines, grizzly bears and dozens of other species.  In addition, the magnificent Porcupine caribou herd uses the area for its essential calving grounds, while polar bears raise their young in nearby dens.  

Drilling proponents would have you believe that oil exploration in the Arctic Refuge would disturb no more than 2,000 acres of the coastal plain.  But those 2,000 acres are not "contiguous" or in one spot, meaning oil companies could weave a 2,000-acre spider web of wells, pipelines, processing plants and other facilities across the coastal plain.  Interior Secretary Gail Norton has said oil development in the Arctic Refuge would take up as much space as a toaster in a four-bedroom house.  A better, and more correct, analogy would compare oil development to a huge stain of spaghetti and meatballs splattered all over the carpet.  

The Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are the crown jewels of Michigan.  The value of these waters * for drinking water, boating, fishing, orchards and vineyards, tourism, quality places to live and work, and as critical habitat for fish and wildlife * is priceless.  To allow oil drilling beneath these natural treasures without a national energy plan in place; without solid proof that the quantity of oil or gas to be recovered would actually benefit the general public; and without taking adequate steps to minimize the negative impacts of drilling under the Great Lakes is reckless and irresponsible.   

In 1997, a panel of scientific experts commissioned by Governor Engler, evaluated the risks of directional drilling * a process in which a well is first drilled vertically onshore and then angled underneath the lake.  While the panel found that this type of drilling posed little to no risk to the Great Lakes' bottoms and water, it did conclude that drilling and its associated equipment and distribution pipelines could pose a risk to critical onshore biological areas such as wetlands and sand dunes.  It also found that directional drilling could impact the quality of life for people who live, work and recreate in the areas where the drilling would occur.  The panel issued several recommendations to reduce the risks involved with directional drilling.  Many of these recommendations have not been acted upon. On September 14, the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, an appointee of Governor Engler, is expected to approve leasing procedures that will lead to the resumption of drilling but that will not adequately address all the recommendations of the science panel.
If the Arctic Refuge and the Great Lakes are to be protected from oil and gas drilling, now is the time for Michigan citizens concerned about safeguarding our wildlife and wild places to come together and take action.  Please call or write Senator Levin regarding the Arctic Refuge and Governor Engler regarding the Great Lakes and urge them to oppose drilling in these sensitive and special places.  Let them know that the Arctic Refuge and Great Lakes are just too special to risk!

* Please call or write Senator Carl Levin and ask him to vote against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
Senator Carl Levin
SR-269 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

* Please call or write Governor John Engler and urge him to maintain the moratorium on drilling under the Great Lakes:
Governor John Engler
State of Michigan
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909


Mark Van Putten 
President and CEO
National Wildlife Federation

P.S.  For more information about the Arctic Refuge, visit www.nwf.org.   For more information about drilling under the Great Lakes, visit www.nwf.org/cleantherain 

We're moving! Effective 9/17/01:
National Wildlife Federation
213 West Liberty, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1322
Phone numbers will remain unchanged.

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