Senators Urged to Continue Their Support of Sound Energy Solutions
PORTLAND – On the eve of a historic vote, Maine’s leading conservation organizations are urging Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to vote against any budget resolution that would lead to drilling in the Arctic Refuge, one of America’s last unspoiled wild places. The vote is expected to take place on Thursday before Congress goes into recess.
The groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), Maine Sierra Club, Maine Audubon and Maine Council of Churches unveiled a major media campaign urging Senators Snowe and Collins to protect the Arctic Refuge from drilling.
The campaign features a 30-second television message that provides a number where constituents can contact the senators. The spot will be running intensively this week in Portland and Bangor.
The campaign also includes a full-page letter running today in the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News, signed by a number of leading Maine conservation groups, urging the senators to vote correctly on the Arctic issue.
“Senators Snowe and Collins have courageously defended the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling,” said Maureen Drouin, Northeast Regional Representative of Sierra Club. “We ask them to continue standing up for this special place by rejecting any final budget that puts the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at risk.”
Congress is poised to vote on the final budget resolution, which could include a controversial provision to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. Drilling proponents – backed by special-interest oil money – have inserted an assumption of revenues from lease sales in the Arctic within the Budget Resolution – an underhanded tactic that limits debate and amendment.
In addition, the future of our nation’s energy policy hangs in the balance because drilling in the Refuge may open up other ecologically sensitive areas and coastal fisheries in America that are currently protected, including Georges Bank.
“Senators Snowe and Collins hold the key to the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the future of our nation’s energy policy,” said Matt Prindiville, Outreach Coordinator of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Allowing drilling in the Refuge may lead to opening up other protected areas to oil drilling, including Georges Bank, home to one of Maine’s precious fisheries. Once oil rigs go in, no vote can ever bring them back. It is just not worth sacrificing the wildlife refuge over an anticipated six months worth of oil ten years from now.”
Mainers want sensible energy solutions based on cleaner, cheaper, safer forms of energy, not a drilling frenzy. America consumes 25 percent of the world’s daily oil production while sitting atop just three percent of the world’s energy reserves.
“We cannot drill our way to energy independence,” said Drouin. “Americans deserve a cheaper, quicker, safer and cleaner energy policy that safeguards the wild places we care so deeply about.”
Arctic drilling would do nothing to reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy. The Refuge contains only six months’ worth of oil at current national consumption levels, and the oil would not begin to come online for a decade. Even at peak production, 20 years from now, it would barely make a dent in America’s overall oil imports.
The American people have already voiced their concerns about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A recent Zogby poll found that 73 percent of those polled opposed including drilling revenues in the budget, while only 18 percent supported it.
“We know how the American people feel about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” said Prindiville. “I trust that my Senators will listen to their constituents and continue to advocate on behalf of a sensible national energy policy that fosters true energy independence and protects our natural heritage.”