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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Monday, January 31, 2005

The following analysis also appeared in Indian Country Today.
Oil, mining decisions build momentum for ANWR

WASHINGTON - As President George W. Bush took his oath of office on Inauguration Day, the Bureau of Land Management's director in Alaska announced plans for winter oil and gas exploration and coal mining in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. NPRA's northeast portion, on Alaska's North Slope, is primary caribou habitat, a molting ground for wild geese and waterfowl, and a center of subsistence harvesting. The geese and caribou migrate from the area in the winter, leading to BLM's conclusion that restricted winter exploration and drilling can be done with minimal intrusion on the environment.

The conclusion is bound to be controversial, given the high profile of environmental issues in Alaska.

The Jan. 20 date of Henri Bisson's speech in Anchorage, Alaska, may have been coincidental, but it dovetails efficiently with a Bush priority - the Republican Party's upcoming all-out effort to pass law permitting oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The NPRA North Slope lands are not within ANWR; but lease tracts there and the accompanying explanations bolster the argument and build the momentum for opening ANWR. The rush is on. Full Analysis


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