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DEADLINE: March 30, 2009

Alaska Native coastal communities need your support. Please submit a comment to the Minerals Management Service by the deadline of March 30, 2009 on the ARCTIC OCEAN MULTI-SALE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT.

Please take action to spur Obama’s officials to change course in Arctic Ocean away from massive Bush administration leasing and drilling plans.

The Interior Department proposes to offer 73 million acres off Alaska for oil and gas development that will endanger Native communities, harm wildlife, and add to global warming.

The Arctic Ocean Multi-sale draft EIS proposes to lease the entire 73 million acres, using one EIS for the next 4 lease sales starting in 2010.

Oil corporations already have millions of acres leased in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

These lease sales have the potential to seriously affect subsistence resources and Inupiat culture. You can join with others to help change this situation with the new Obama Administration.

Alaskan Indigenous Communities have witnessed offshore oil and gas development destroy communities, disrupt their traditional indigenous cultures, soil beaches, and kill countless numbers of birds, marine mammals, fish, and other wildlife. The Arctic is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of offshore drilling. With broken sea ice prevalent and waters that are treacherous for oil rigs, pipelines and tankers, the threat of oil spills-for which there is no technology available to clean up-is constant.

We have an opportunity to prevent these catastrophes in our Arctic seas.

Please urge Ken Salazar, the new Secretary of Interior, and the Minerals Management Service to stop Arctic oil and gas projects and keep the new Administration’s commitment to reversing climate change, protecting important ecological areas, and respecting the rights of indigenous cultures.

How to Submit Written Comments:
Send in comments by March 30, 2009.

Find a Sample Comment/Letter Below

Send comments to:
Regional Director, MMS Alaska OCS Region
Email: akwebmaster@mms.gov

Department of the Interior
Public Comment Form Online:
Click here to quickly and easily submit your comment online at the DOI website. Use the comment/letter as a guide for your submission.

Hai’ Keegwaadhat Ooli’ (Thank You, May Creator Bless You)

Faith Gemmill, Executive Director
Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands

Comment Title: Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Lease Sales 209, 212, 217, and 221 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS

Sample Comments/Letter:
I am writing to protest proposed plans for offshore oil and gas leasing and drilling in Alaska’s Arctic and Bristol Bay.  I urge Interior Secretary Salazar and the Minerals Management Service to take a time-out and immediately halt all activities related to these shortsighted and ill-advised plans.

Before taking any action to open the Arctic to offshore oil and gas drilling there is an urgent need  to consider rejecting the leases of these areas based on a truthful and full scientific assessment of the ecological health of the Arctic ecosystem.

The traditional homelands of Alaska’s Native Peoples depend on this complex ecosystem, which is rapidly melting and changing do to global climate shifts. These conditions are causing grave consequences on the populations of bowhead whales, beluga whales, walrus, seals, sea birds, polar bears, and fish. To add the destructive process of oil exploration and drilling will further the extinction of and changing migrations furthering the disruption of the Indigenous Peoples of this area who have subsisted upon these living marine resources for millennia. .  It is socially and ecologically irresponsible to compound this stress to the Arctic.

Furthermore, to date there is no comprehensive management plan to protect the rapidly melting Arctic, no technology exists to clean up oil spills, there is no comprehensive energy plan for the nation, it accelerates global warming, and indigenous community concerns were severely marginalized during the development of the plans.  These plans are so unsound that Bush’s own Environmental Protection Agency and National Marine Fisheries Service both recommended that they not move forward.

Despite these objections, and over the voices of countless scientists and indigenous community leaders, the Minerals Management Service has leased almost 2.8 million additional acres in the previously undeveloped Chukchi Sea–the heart of polar bear habitat.  The Administration also attempted to move forward with drilling in the Beaufort Sea in an area critical to both endangered bowhead whales and the Inupiat communities that subsist upon them.

Instead of addressing these ill-advised actions that have not received proper environmental review and public process, the Minerals Management Service is attempting to immediately push forward four additional lease sales covering 72.5 million acres and a new Five-Year Program that would add two additional lease sales in the Arctic and would also sacrifice the Bering Sea’s Bristol Bay–the nation’s richest fishing grounds.

Now is the time for the new Administration to address climate change, a responsible energy policy, and protection of the ecologically and culturally rich Arctic environment.  Instead of rushing to drill this fragile and poorly-understood ecosystem, we must take a ‘time out’ to truly understand the consequences of our actions.

I urge Secretary Salazar and the Minerals Management Service to halt the Arctic Multi-Sale EIS process and undertake baseline scientific studies in the Arctic, engage in a respectful dialogue with the traditional indigenous communities of Alaska, commit to renewable energy initiatives, and protect sensitive ecological areas such as the Arctic Ocean and Bristol Bay. Furthermore the Five Year Program should reflect these priorities and recognize our need for a ‘time out’ on development in these areas.  It is time that the Department of Interior once again fulfills its role to be a responsible steward of our natural heritage.