Refuge under threat

Published: Thursday 15 March 2001

  Oil explorations threaten th the Republicans in the us Senate will soon introduce a legislation that includes a provision to open some parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in northeastern Alaska, to oil and natural gas drilling. President George W Bush is expected to support the legislation. Opening the refuge to drilling was among the many measures that Bush had endorsed during his campaign. Republicans have in the past made several unsuccessful attempts to open the refuge to private drilling. The proposed portion of the refuge that will be open for drilling is an area vital to the existence of dozens of species of birds and animals.

The legislation has been criticised by environmental groups, who say that the drilling would generate a relatively tiny amount of oil compared to overall consumption of the nation. An environmental impact study reports that large-scale leasing would require construction of roads, pipelines, airstrips and living quarters for workers in the refuge. Riverbeds and streambeds would have to be stripped for gravel to build roads and airstrips. The industry is however saying that there are many reasons for undertaking the drilling in the refuge -- the us has not been exploring new sources of energy and is too dependent on foreign oil. According to them, the oil would be extracted in a non-invasive and environmentally friendly way.

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