Statement on the Senate Vote Stripping a Measure Allowing Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the FY '04 Budget Resolution

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Statement of Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife

(03/19/2003) - The American public has again triumphed over the special interests that would despoil our nation's greatest wildlife sanctuary.

Today's solid Senate vote is just one more example of the strong bipartisan support for protecting the Arctic refuge as a national treasure for future generations, and it should finally end Big Oil's relentless campaign to drill there " but we know it won't. Some members of Congress will continue to try to tack this proposal onto unrelated bills because they know it's impossible for them to win any other way.

The facts in this debate haven't changed, and neither has the opposition of the Senate or the American people. There's not enough oil there to give America energy independence or to have any impact on gas prices. In fact, there's only six months of oil beneath the refuge, and it would take up to 10 years to get the first barrels out. If we really want to do something about our dependence on foreign oil, we should require SUVs to meet the same fuel economy standards as ordinary cars.

That would save more oil than the refuge could produce at peak volume.

Drilling in the refuge would serve only to destroy America's last truly wild place for the profit of oil companies.

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Defenders of Wildlife is one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wildlife and habitat, and was named as one of America’s Top 100 Charities by Worth magazine. With more than 430,000 members and supporters, including nearly 100,000 in California, Defenders is an effective voice for the environment. To learn more about Defenders of Wildlife, please visit www.defenders.org.

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