Friday, March 18, 2005

My NY Times Letter

My letter wasn't used, but others said the gist of it.

To the Editor:

Interior Secretary Gale Norton makes a feeble and shameless attempt to justify drilling in ANWR. "A small footprint" she says, and this: "When the spring thaw comes and the road melts, any evidence that a man or a machine ever crossed there will be gone."

This is factually false. shows tracks in the tundra from early exploration are still there today. Moreover, the ice roads she cites comes from vacuuming up water from all of the pothole lakes used by waterfowl. I know because measuring standing water for this very purpose was part of my job in 1989.

As a biologist myself I've seen and surveyed the 1002 area firsthand. The mountains are much closer to the coastal plain than in other areas of the Alaskan north slope already open to exploration. That's 85 percent of all arctic slope land. Isn't that enough? The 1002 area of ANWR is what we biologists call a "hotspot"; a perfect storm of biological life not found just anywhere. To let this administration befoul the last best place should not be allowed. The result would be a mish-mash of pipelines than would span the entire plain with devastating effects for 140, 000 caribou and other wildlife.

More animals and less room. Do the math.

Mark A. York


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