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Does the Future of Drilling In Alaska Begin In Brooklyn? Sierra Club Says Towns Holds Critical Vote

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What does arctic drilling in Alaska have to do with Fort Greene and Clinton Hill? A lot, according to Bob Muldoon, associate regional representative for the Sierra Club, a national grassroots environmental group. In particular, Muldoon is concerned with Rep. Ed Towns, who failed to show up for a critical vote last spring, which included artic drilling in a budget proposal. The vote finally passed 214-211 with 10 no-shows, including Towns. “Congressman Towns holds a critical vote on arctic drilling,” said Muldoon. “We are concerned that he stay with us in the coming year because there will be more attempts to open the arctic refuge in Alaska to drilling for oil.” Muldoon emphasized that the Sierra Club is not against Towns, who has been in Congress for 23 years and may face Assemblymember Roger Green in this September’s Democratic congressional primary. “The point is we need the support of Towns on these critical votes,” he said. A Towns spokesperson said while Towns missed the vote, the Senate approved a similar bill and when that reconciliation bill [between the two houses] was sent back to Congress, Towns voted against it because of the arctic drilling clause. “From this point on he [Towns] intends to always show up for the vote and will be on the side of the Sierra Club and all anti-Arctic drilling advocates,” said the spokesperson. The Sierra Club, NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group) and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment were at the Pratt Institute last week co-sponsoring a lecture from Alaskan photographer and environmental advocate Tim Leach. Leach, as part of the Caribou Commons Project, is working to protect the 1.5-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain between the Arctic Ocean and the Brooks Mountain Range. The site is currently being proposed for oil development. “This small portion of land we’re talking about is described as a biological gem because of its concentration of wildlife there in the summer months,” said Leach. “There are 135 species of birds there from five continents, the highest concentration of land den sites for polar bears throughout the entire north slope of Alaska,” said Leach. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that unbiased information is coming from the scientific community, and make sure oil development doesn’t ruin one of the last complete arctic eco-systems we have in the United States,” he added. Muldoon further explained that 95 percent of the Alaskan coastline is already open to drilling and oil companies like Exxon, who recently reported their largest annual revenue ever, is pushing to open this last wildlife refuge to oil exploration. “As far as we’re concerned at the Sierra Club, the effort to open the last five percent of arctic coast of Alaska to oil drilling is another giveaway to the wealthy oil companies in the name of the failed energy policy. We need a real energy policy of the United States,” said Muldoon. “We could get a lot more oil quicker by raising the mileage we get on our cars and SUVs,” he added.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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