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Oil Exploration and Drilling in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The "1002" area along the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been described as a "barren, frozen wasteland" devoid of trees and beauty, and in the dim light of an Alaskan winter it isn't hard to form such a bleak impression. The dens of polar bears are hidden, and the muskoxen are scarce amidst the windswept snow.

The reality of this "wasteland" is, of course, far different. Come spring, the 1002 lands are the calving grounds of the international Porcupine Caribou herd and the summer nesting grounds of millions of migratory waterfowl. Hunting and fishing and wilderness recreational activities abound, with dozens of guide/outfitters offering services within the Coastal Plain itself.

With the spill of over 200,000 gallons of crude oil on the North Slope of Alaska during the winter of 2006, oil companies have brought into question their promises that exploration and drilling within the 1002 lands can, and will, be carried out with the "utmost care."

At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee called to investigate the negligence behind this most recent oil spill, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (a staunch supporter of drilling in the wildlife refuge) spoke about the betrayal she felt: "This is a painful hearing for me as an Alaskan, to be talking about corrosion that has allowed for a spill on the North Slope. I'm sure you have heard from other Alaskans who are disappointed, frustrated, angry, because for years we've been told by the industry, and we have stood alongside—we have said the operations on Alaska's North Slope are the gold standard. That's what we believed; that's what we want to continue to believe. But that faith has been shattered by what we're seeing up north now."

Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers believes that the potential costs of exploration and drilling in the 1002 lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—to habitat and game and fish populations—outweigh the potential short-term benefits to Alaskans and to our nation. We support permanent protection for the 1002 lands within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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