Is the Arctic big enough for wildlife and development?

Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2009

The recent news about the proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the threatened polar bear seems to come in the nick of time, but then disappointment creeped in when I saw the news that Shell Oil had been given approval to drill in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The drilling could take place right in the middle of the proposed polar bear habitat without fundamental information of the impacts on the Arctic environment.

Shell plans to drill along key migratory routs for the endangered bowhead whale that the Inupiat people depend on, and a Shell survey shows an estimated 40 percent of the entire bowhead population swimming in waters proposed for drilling. This is an unacceptable risk to the bowhead whale because climate change is already ravaging this region. How can the federal government protect endangered species in a stressed environment and allow oil and gas development?

Critical habitat for the polar bear is crucial. We must take a time-out from oil and gas activity in America's Arctic. Stopping climate change doesn't just save animals from extinction, it saves humans from extinction too.

Mr. Kirk Petersen


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