Statement of Matt Prindiville, NRCM Outreach Coordinator
Welcome everybody. It’s wonderful to see so many of you out here today. My name is Matt Prindiville and I’m an organizer with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I’m here with representatives from the Sierra Club, Maine Audubon, Environment Maine, the Maine Council of Churches, the Alaska Coalition and all of you wonderful people, and we’re all here because today is the day we’re letting Congress know that our Arctic Wildlife Refuge is off limits to oil drilling.
You know, the oil companies and their pals in Congress will do almost anything to drill in the Refuge. They’re telling us that we need an energy policy that opens up the Arctic Refuge and explores for oil off our coasts. You and I both know this means fattening the pockets of some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the world. This is exactly what we don’t need.
We don’t need an energy policy that gives the oil companies more of our hard-earned money. You and I know they’re already squeezing us dry. These guys are making money hand over fist. And we don’t need an energy policy that burns more oil. We don’t need more air pollution, more ozone days, or more of our kids sick with asthma. Right? We don’t need more global warming and the sea level rise and fierce hurricanes that come with it. And we definitely don’t need an energy policy that offers up our nation’s sacred places on the altars of greed and ignorance.
Do you know that if new cars got three more miles to the gallon, we would save more than all of the oil we could possibly get out of the Arctic Refuge? If cars got three more miles to the gallon, we wouldn’t have to send all our hard-earned money to the oil companies and we wouldn’t have to sacrifice natural treasures like the Arctic Refuge. And the technology is here. Everyone wants more efficient cars. We’ve got the technology to make SUVs get 80 miles to the gallon, and what do the oil companies want to do? They want to drill sacred places and make us pay through the nose. They want us to pay for them to drill in our wildlife refuge and we say no way, no how!
These oil companies even want to exploit the suffering of our fellow Americans in New Orleans. I heard a spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute say that the stress on Americans from higher fuel prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina warrants drilling in the Refuge. Can you believe it? Did you know that the oil companies already have 95% of the Arctic coastal plain at their disposal? They’re out there exploiting the suffering of our fellow Americans in New Orleans and high prices at the pump to drill in the Arctic Refuge and they already own almost all the real estate. Never mind that it would take at least 10 years for any oil to flow from the Refuge, or that far more oil could be saved at a far lower cost by requiring the auto industry to use available technology to improve fuel efficiency.
And drilling in the Refuge isn’t going to do a thing to lower gas prices. The U.S. Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that even twenty years down the road, when Arctic Refuge oil is at or near peak production, gas prices would only drop by about a penny per gallon. Do you think it’s worth destroying the homes of polar bears to save a penny per gallon? Do you think it’s worth disrupting the birthing grounds for the Porcupine caribou herd to save a couple of dimes on a fill-up twenty years from now? Do you think it’s worth destroying the habitat for millions of migrating birds some of which have flown from South America to save a couple of bucks a year on gasoline?
I didn’t think so.
So we’re just weeks away from Congress deciding forever the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Senators Snowe and Collins hold the key to its defense. They will cast a historic vote on whether oil drilling will be allowed along Alaska’s unspoiled northeastern coastline to indulge our nation’s obsession with kowtowing to insatiable oil companies and stubborn carmakers.
And we have one thing to say to Senators Snowe and Collins when it comes to this vote: “Just say NO!!!” “No” to drilling in the Arctic Refuge; “No” to lining the pockets of greedy oil companies; “No” to making the United States of America the energy gluttons of the planet. And “yes” to ensuring our country lives up to its billing as the greatest nation on Earth by making smart energy choices for our future.