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Re: E-M:/ Kim Winchell --earth angel!

Thanks, Michelle. 

I urge all reading this, who have ever cared about the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, to make your feelings known loud and clear to your Representative as soon as possible.
This struggle to keep oil companies out of there has gone on for *years* ...and now, the Republican-controlled Congress has resorted to an ethically bankrupt tactic of
inserting drilling in ANWR into a Budget Reconciliation bill to try to sneak it past everyone. Shame on them and their blatant arrogance and their ecological ignorance.
Not to mention, their turning a blind eye to justice for the Gwich'in people.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an irreplaceable wilderness and ecological treasure - a corner of God's creation that is functioning as God intended (and there ain't too many of such places left, folks).  The indigenous Gwich'in people depend on this area (and the Porcupine Caribou herd) for their cultural, spiritual, and physical sustenance.  The Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge (the heart of the refuge, the very place oil companies want to go) has been called "America's Serengeti."
Saving this place is about reverence for the land and its myriad creatures, and justice for the people who depend upon it.  I think many of us, who have never even been there, also depend, in a way, on knowing such special places still exist in our world.

It's a lie that we can drill our way to energy independence.  We could save so much more energy by building more fuel-efficient cars, increasing energy efficiency and conservation, and shifting to other forms of cleaner, alternative forms of energy, than could ever be found / extracted from ANWR.  Any oil from ANWR (estimated to be a six-month's supply) would simply come at too high a cost - to that unique ecosystem, to the indigenous people ...and I think to our spirits as well.  If we as a society must go even there (the last 5% of the Alaskan coastline not already open to drilling), it says that no part of our world should be left untouched by the re-shaping (and too often polluting) of humankind. 

(While you're at it, contacting your legislators, tell them to leave the Endangered Species Act alone .. Rep. Pombo is poised to offer a bill *this week* that would effectively dismantle the ESA).  What is wrong with these people?!

Further background on ANWR and the Gwich'in and how to contact your legislators is below.

Kim Winchell
Diaconal Minister

The Issue: In April 2005, the House and Senate passed a $14 trillion budget resolution  that included a provision that smoothes the way to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling.  This provision calls for the relevant congressional committee to generate revenues of $2.4 billion over 5 years; the danger is that people will say ANWR must be opened to generate some of this revenue.  In the Senate, an attempt to strike this provision failed on a vote of 51- 49.  However, there is hope.  For ANWR to be opened to drilling, language specifically authorizing drilling still needs to be included in a budget reconciliation bill and approved by Congress.  In October,  Congress will vote on the budget reconciliation bill that will determine the fate of ANWR.  Attempts will be made to strike the ANWR provision from the reconciliation bill.  

Action needed: Contact your Representative and especially your
Senators and tell them to oppose using the budget reconciliation bill, or any other legislative vehicle, to authorize energy development in the refuge.

a)   To find out how to call your member of congress/Senators click http://ga3.org/soea/leg-lookup/search.html.

b)   If you prefer to send a pre-written letter click here: http://www.arcticrefugeaction.org/.

c)   If you wish to write your own letter you can find your member's email at :http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html

Background:   The 19.6 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States . The ANWR is a magnificent wilderness of boreal forests, rugged mountains, sweeping tundra vistas, wild rivers, coastal lagoons, and barrier islands. Known as "America's Serengeti" because it supports the 130,000-strong Porcupine Caribou herd which gathers on the coastal plain each spring to bear and nurse calves, the ANWR also is home to a myriad of other species. It  provides critically important habitat to over 250 species of wildlife, such as wolves, grizzlies, polar bears, caribou, and migratory birds. It is the place where many species nest and feed after migrating from as far away as Antarctica, Asia, and the Chesapeake Bay.  

 Many studies predict that oil drilling would lead to a decrease in the caribou herd and other wildlife populations.The Interior Department has estimated that drilling could cause a 30-40% decline in the populations of the coastal plain's species, and destroy much of this fragile ecosystem. The coastal plain represents the last 5 percent of Alaska's vast North Slope not already open to oil exploration and drilling.  In 1998, the US Geological Survey estimated that only about 3.2 billion barrels of oil would be found in the ANWR. That is less than six months of U.S. demands. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA)  concluded that drilling in the refuge would not affect U.S. imports or oil prices. Furthermore, it will take at least 10 years before any oil begins flowing from the ANWR. The United States' energy needs can be better met through energy efficiency, conservation, and the development of alternative energy sources than through Arctic drilling.. Even at peak production, the oil from the coastal plain is not expected to amount to more than 2 percent of the current U.S. demand. Increasing fuel efficiency standards for new passenger cars could save as much oil as 15 times the likely yield from the coastal plain.

The 9.000 Gwich'in people, located in 15 villages in northeast Alaska and northwest Canada, just below the ANWR, have relied for thousands of years on the Porcupine Caribou herd that migrates to the coastal plain each year to have their calves. Gwich'in oral tradition indicates that the Gwich'in have occupied this area for as long as 20,000 years. The calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd are considered sacred by the Gwich'in. They call it "Iizhik Gwats'an Gwandaii Goodlit" (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins).  Their subsistence lifestyle depends on the caribou for clothing, handicrafts, and tools.  The caribou are an integral part of Gwich'in culture, binding their generations and is essential for their nutritional. cultural, and spiritual needs. Disturbance of the caribou habitat could lead to an extinction of the traditional Gwich'in way of life. The Gwich'in ask why their way of life should be disturbed in order to supply the US economy with a few months worth of oil.