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National News

Tuesday, 17 June, 2008 10:45 PM

ANWR: Drilling Into The Last Frontier?

PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE

The breathtakingly beautiful Brooks Range looms in the distance with its foothills inviting President Bush to take a hike in ANWR.

by Mike Wrathell
mwrathell@yahoo.com

There has been a lot of talk about drilling oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, pronounced "an-waar," lately, and having visited Alaska and been wowwed by its untouched magnitudenous beauty, I thought it a good topic to discuss, as teevy news shows often show soundbites only and leave you without enough information to make an intelligent decision of your own. I guess we are supposed to rely on the "experts" who know that whatever they decide is right and the other sides' side is beneath consideration.

Two separate great herds of caribou, or reindeer as we Michiganders call them when we aren't listening to Elton John's "Caribou" CD, use ANWR's lands throughout most of the year, sometimes also venturing into Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The Refuge also has more polar bear babies born near the Arctic shore than any other area in Alaska, let alone the United States, of course....we have one at the Detroit Zoo named Talini. She is three now....

I was thinking maybe building a pipeline for the oil to Fairbanks might be a compromise between leaving the Refuge a true refuge, and turning part of it, the parts most vital to the polar bears, into a drilling operation.

The wild terrain and long distance to Fairbanks might make such an idea fiscally untenable, but transporting oil via the Arctic Ocean is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, what with ice bergs and drunken captains and equipment failures and mishaps.

It seems that there must be a better way than to take away a refuge from golden eagles and polar bears and reindeer and a host of other animals and plants. It would take seven years to get the oil going and it would not even necessarily lower the price of oil. A half of one percent of all the world's oil is there, so Brit Hume on FoxNews reported.

Have you ever held out your hand to a baby polar bear? Thank God, Senator John McCain of Arizona is against the risk of destroying the beauty of the Refuge with an unnecessary risk.

But if there is more talk of drilling there in Congress, I hope they will invite members of the Alaska Wilderness League and other leading environmental groups to tag along on a trip to ANWR. I don't think any legislator should vote to destroy America's greatest refuge for Artic wildlife without seeing it and hearing from its strongest advocates.

It is about time our politicans think deeply and not be held sway to the oil lobby or whoever else wants them to risk the eternal destruction of a refuge that Teddy Roosevelt would surely defend with his big stick.

I visited Alaska in August 2000. I saw some reindeer, two grizzly bears, and a lot of other animals. I also saw Mt. McKinley at sunset.

I know we need to get the price of gasoline down, or at least keep it where it is, but we have to keep our thinking caps on. A refuge is a refuge. The polar bears did not raise the price of gas on us. Don't blame them.

For more information, visit The Alaska Wilderness League and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Webpage for ANWR.

 

PHOTO BY MIKE WRATHELL / AMERICAJR.com

Me and Talini hanging out at The Detroit Zoo when she was a little polar bear cub.

 

 

 

 

 

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