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Photograph by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mr. President,

Hurray for you! Congress passed the biggest tax overhaul since the 1980s. You must feel like you finally accomplished something.

However, buried in an income tax bill is a measure that opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. How can this happen? Have you ever been to Alaska?

I wish everyone could go to Alaska and witness firsthand the pristine beauty there. The Arctic tundra is a fragile habitat that is home to many animals like caribou and polar bears, enormous bird populations and their nesting areas, and gorgeous landscapes. And you and Congress think that it is okay to send in huge machines, drill holes through delicate soil that sustains abundant life, and rip it all apart? I call it crazy, but I shouldn’t be surprised. Your record so far on the environment is abysmal.

Let’s see. You’ve pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, a strong signal of how YOU dismiss climate change. The Clean Power Plan is set for repeal. With deregulation you’ve made it easier to plunder Alaska’s Bristol Bay with mining and drilling, opening up many federal lands there to oil and gas drilling. And you’ve started in the Lower 48, too. The shrinking of Utah’s Bear’s Ears National Monument (shrunk to 15% of its original size) and Grand Staircase Escalante (shrunk by half its original size) are two prime examples of your attempts to despoil the natural areas of our country, and open them up to oil, gas, and mining. More money in the pockets of huge corporations. Less grandeur for the citizens of the U.S., less habitat for the indigenous wildlife. And let’s be clear here – yet another broken promise to Native Americans and the Navajo Nation.

Instead of opening up our federal lands to drilling and mining, why don’t we invest in renewable energy? Provide incentives to corporations to develop alternative energy sources that do not involve ripping apart the planet on which we live and depend, land that should be sacred to all of us. Solar and wind energy are renewable and vastly less disruptive to sensitive ecosystems. Your executive order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” calls for promoting “clean and safe” development, while “avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production.” Hah! In other words it is okay to run roughshod over anything that gets in the way, including polar bear and bird habitats, sacred burial grounds and cliff dwellings.  How awful that corporations would be unfairly burdened by laws that would protect pristine environments.

Just because we can drill for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, doesn’t mean we should. That you and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and the entire Congress would approve this bill is unconscionable. It can only be greed, pure and simple, with no thought for the legacy we leave our children.

The only accomplishments in this bill are the plunder of our natural resources and further decimation of the health of our planet, a blunder of untold magnitude for life on this Earth.

Get out of the way. Go visit these federal lands you plan to spoil. Leave them alone. Commit to doing something good for this nation that doesn’t involve making money and greedy corporations and you. Seek some beauty, and leave it for our children.



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