Center for Biological Diversity

Help Stop Arctic Drilling From Harming Polar Bears

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The Arctic is in trouble. It’s warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and Arctic summer sea ice is disappearing more rapidly than any climate models predicted. Chukchi Sea species, including polar bears and Pacific walrus, are already showing signs of stress from this unprecedented loss of their sea-ice habitat. This fall, Pacific walrus congregated on the shore near Point Lay, Alaska, in the tens of thousands -- an unheard-of number -- because there was no suitable sea ice for them.

Against this backdrop of a rapidly changing climate, the federal government admits that it knows very little about the Arctic. It doesn’t know where endangered bowhead whales feed. It doesn’t know how many Pacific walrus there are, nor does it know how many ice seals there are or where they spend their time. In fact, the government admits that it knows so little about the Chukchi ecosystem that it doesn't even know how offshore oil and gas will impact these animals. And yet, despite these unknowns, Secretary Salazar has determined that drilling in the Chukchi Sea should move full-speed ahead.

If there's one thing we know about the Arctic Ocean, it's that there’s no way to clean an oil spill in its wild, icy seas. Struggling polar bears and walrus simply cannot survive dirty industrial drilling in their melting Chukchi home. A large oil spill like the one in the Gulf of Mexico could mean the difference between survival and extinction for Alaska's endangered species.

Secretary Salazar is accepting comments on his draft Chukchi Sea environmental analysis until the end of November. The draft analysis dismisses the need to collect missing science and discounts potential negative impacts on many species of Arctic wildlife.
Please take a moment to tell Salazar that we simply do not know enough about the fragile Arctic Ocean to allow dirty industrial drilling to move forward.

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Please submit comments by November 30, 2010.

Polar bear photo by Pete Spruance.

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