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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

April 17, 2009

Contact: Kristina Johnson

Court Blocks Drilling in Polar Bear Habitat
Bush Plan Neglected Impacts on Marine Mammals, Environment

Washington, D.C. A federal appeals court threw out plans to expand off shore drilling in Alaska today. The court sided with environmentalists, ruling that a Bush administration plan opening drilling in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort Seas failed to consider impacts on marine life and the environment. The Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are home to roughly one-tenth of the world's polar bears, as well as walruses, seals and whales.

Statement of Sierra Club Lands Director Athan Manuel:

President Bush's plan to drill in the sensitive Chukchi and Beaufort Seas ignored science. The plan didn't consider the serious threat drilling would pose to America's polar bears, whales and walruses. We're pleased to see the court recognize that plans to drill overlooked very serious threats to marine mammals.  

Polar bears already face an enormous hurdle as global warming is melting the sea ice where they live and raise their young. The last thing they need is the added threat of oil spills and industrial drilling development.

There is no way to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic's broken sea ice. It would only take one spill to devastate the area's marine life and the Alaska native communities who rely on the seas for survival.

We don't need to open wild and special places like the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to drilling. Instead, we should be investing in the kind of clean energy that will create good jobs, combat global warming, and position America as a global leader in the new clean energy economy.

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