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Letter to Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior - Wilderness Designation for Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Dear Secretary Salazar:

We write in support of a wilderness designation for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the drift Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Refuge that was released in August. We, the undersigned Members of the United States Congress, urge you to choose Alternative C and to recommend Wilderness designation for the iconic, unparalleled Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was set aside fifty years ago for its "unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values." This unparalleled landscape, and particularly its Coastal Plain, is truly one of America's greatest wild places. It is home to polar bears, grizzly bears, muskoxen, more than one hundred thousand caribou, and hundreds of thousands of birds that gather each year from around the globe. Every year, birds that begin their lives on the Coastal Plain migrate to all 50 states and across six continents before heading back to the Arctic.

The Gwich'in people who have lived in this region for thousands of years rely on the Porcupine caribou herd, whose valving and nursery grounds are in the Arctic Refuge's Coastal Plain. More than 1,000 scientists wrote to Congress a few years ago to affirm that oil development would threaten this herd. In their letter, they wrote "Simply put, development of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge would likely have significant detrimental effects on this international herd. These findings were supported in the National Academies of Science in their 2003 report, 'The cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alaska's North Slope.'" Oil and gas leasing, exploration, development, and production, including seismic activity, support infrastructure or any geological surveys are entirely incompatible with the purposes of the Refuge, and would permanently harm the values for which the Arctic Refuge was established.

The Coastal Plain is the biological heart of the Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls the coastal plain the "center for wildlife activity" in the Refuge. Allowing drilling the Arctic Refuge would irreparably disrupt this important ecosystem and forever destroy one of our last great wild places.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a pristine landscape with values unlike any other public lands in our nation. its wilderness, ecological integrity, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and Alaska Native cultural and subsistence values are unmatched. Therefore, we urge to you to adopt Alternative C in the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to recommend designating the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge as Wilderness.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey
Joseph Lieberman
Christopher Van Hollen
John F. Kerry
John Conyers
Richard Durbin
Rosa L. DeLauro
Tom Harkin
George Miller
Sheldon Whitehouse
Lois Capps
Ron Wyden
Maurice Hinchey
Benjamin L. Cardin
Raul M. Grijalva
Barbara Boxer
Louise Slaughter
Patrick Leahy
Gerald E. "Gerry" Connolly
Richard Blumenthal
Betty McCollum
Maria Cantwell
Steve Israel
Tom Udall
James Moran
Michael F. Bennet
Kathy Castor
Mark Udall
Robert E. Andrews
Sam Farr
John Olver
Jerrold Nadler
Earl Blumenauer
Jose E. Serrano
Anna G. Eshoo
Dennis J. Kucinich
James McGovern
Linda Sánchez
Laura Richardson
Judy Chu
Niki Tsongas
Martin T. Heinrich
Carolyn Maloney
Rush D. Holt
Maxine Waters
Jim Langevin
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.
Jackie Speier
Bruce L. Braley
Howard Berman
Mazie K. Hirono
Mike Honda
Mike Quigley
Chellie Pingree
Adam Schiff
Allyson Y. Schwartz
Jan Schakowsky
Keith Ellison
Steven Rothman
Barbara Lee
Alcee L. Hastings
Susan A. Davis
Jared Polis
Pete Fortney Stark
Ted Deutch
David Price
Dale E. Kildee
William R. Keating
Lloyd Doggett
Frederica Wilson
Chris Murphy
Jim McDermott
Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr.


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