No one voted on Election Day to destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But President Bush is now claiming a mandate to do exactly that. Congressional leaders are pushing for a quick vote that would turn America's greatest sanctuary for Arctic wildlife into a vast, polluted oil field.
Even worse, they are planning to avoid public debate on this devastating measure by hiding it in a must-pass budget bill. Please go to http://www.savebiogems.org/arctic right now and send a message telling your U.S. senators and representatives to reject this sneak attack on the Arctic Refuge. And please forward my message to your friends, family and colleagues.
We must mobilize millions of Americans in opposition as quickly as possible. Don't believe for a second that the president is targeting the Arctic Refuge for the sake of America's energy security or to lower gas prices at the pump. President Bush knows full well that oil drilled in the Arctic Refuge would take ten years to get to market and would never equal more than a paltry one or two percent of our nation's daily consumption.
Simply put, sacrificing the crown jewel of our wildlife heritage would do nothing to reduce gas prices or break our addiction to Persian Gulf oil. But if the raid on the Arctic Refuge isn't really about gas prices or energy security, then what is it about?
It's the symbolism. The Arctic Refuge represents everything spectacular and everything endangered about America's natural heritage. It embodies a million years of ecological serenityŠ a a vast stretch of pristine wildernessŠ a an irreplaceable birthing ground for polar bears, caribou and white wolves. It is the greatest living reminder that conserving nature in its wild state is a core American value. It stands for every remnant of wilderness that we, as a people, have wisely chosen to protect from the relentless march of bulldozers, chain saws and oilrigs. And that's why the Bush administration is dead set on destroying it.
By unlocking the Arctic Refuge, they hope to open the door for oil, gas and coal giants to invade our last and best wild places: our western canyonlands, our ancient forests, our coastal waters, even our national monuments. This is the real agenda behind the raid on the Arctic Refuge and the entire Bush-Cheney energy plan: to transfer our public estate into corporate hands so it can be liquidated for a quick buck. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) admitted as much when he said this battle over the Arctic Refuge is really a fight over whether energy exploration will be allowed in similarly sensitive areas in the future. "It's about precedent," Rep. DeLay said. I take him at his word.
If we let the president and Congress plunder the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the sake of oil company profits, then no piece of our natural heritage will be safe from wholesale destruction.
Robert Redford, Board of Trustees
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)