Sierran Masthead

Allís (Not) Quiet on the Arctic Front

By John Taylor, Five Rivers Group

If you thought the proverbial fat lady had sung regarding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and oil development, well, she ainít! The Senate effectively killed the monstrous energy bill sent from the House. But now the Republican majority in the Senate (slight though it is) wants to sneak Arctic drilling into the budget process, which will be much harder to stop.

To be fair, no one is proposing to drill in the whole refuge. There are about 2,000 acres of Coastal Plain that are critical to the Porcupine River caribou herd, and this is where the oil developers want to drill. Sen. Bayh has consistently voted against drilling in the Coastal Plain (the last 5 percent of Alaskaís arctic coastline not already been open to oil). Sen. Lugar has voted against it before, but last year he voted in favor of oil. We need to communicate with him more.

To that end, the Alaska Coalition, which has been fighting for Alaskaís wilderness preservation for more than a decade, has opened an office in the same building as the Hoosier Chapter. Udi Lazimy (317-685-8800) is coordinating with environmental and other groups in the state to help return Sen. Lugarís vote to what best serves the majority of Americans for the long term.

If you were lucky enough, in 2002 you got to see Ken Madsenís slide and music presentations on the refuge when he visited Indiana. They were stunning. Read Kenís book, Under the Arctic Sun; you wonít be able to put it down. See the related story about a slideshow on the Arctic coming to Indiana in March. Last fall, Ken and his family, along with William Greenland, a Gwichíin native whose culture would be negatively impacted from oil development, visited my hometown of Muncie. To gear up for Kenís slideshow, about 25 regional residents walked along the Cardinal Greenway carrying signs supporting greater fuel efficiency for cars and protecting the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a battle of public awareness.

Big oil gets its message out, and thatís all most people hear. It is critical that we continue getting our message out, and soon. The fat lady ainít gonna sing till the Senate approves permanent wilderness status for the Arctic Coastal Plain. Contact the Senators, contact Udi, and help save one of the worldís last truly natural places.


Five Rivers Group members and others on the Cardinal Greenway in Muncie demonstrated to support permanent protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development.
Among those protesting are Bob Gaylor, John Taylor, Wendy Boothryder, Jon Creek, Rosemarie Jeffery, and Ken Madsen.


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Winter 2002-2003