Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In the closing days of the Bush Administration, the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) rashly pushed a last-ditch plan to expand and accelerate oil and gas leasing in a vast area--73 million acres--of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the coast of Alaska.
***TAKE ACTION*** Please urge the Obama Administration to halt this precipitous plan and protect America's Arctic: the climate warms and sea ice recedes, the Arctic marine environment is already undergoing rapid change. This region is home to America's entire threatened polar bear population, the endangered bowhead whale, threatened Spectacled and Steller' seiders, walrus, and several species of "ice seals". New oil and gas leases could bring significant, lasting, and adverse impacts to this sensitive, already changing Arctic marine environment.The new plan is simply too much, too soon, too fast. Scientists still do not have enough data on the Arctic marine ecosystem and the potential impacts from climate change, let alone the cumulative impacts of oil and gas development coupled with a changing climate.And the leasing plan is just too risky. The MMS estimates a 40 percent chance of a large oil spill resulting from development in the Chukchi Sea, yet MMS readily acknowledges that we do not have adequate technologies to clean up oil spills in ice-laden waters. A large oil spill would be devastating to polar bears, whales, other marine mammals, and the millions of seabirds that rely on the Arctic Ocean.
***TAKE ACTION*** Ask the new Administration for a time-out on oil and gas related activities off the coast of Alaska until critical habitat is designated for the polar bear, additional research is conducted, and the potential impacts of development in the Arctic are better understood;

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