Environmentalists counting on Congress for drilling ban

Environmentalists counting on Congress for drilling ban

A Bill has been introduced in the United States Congress to permanently ban oil drilling in a vast wildlife refuge in Alaska.

The measure has been rejected in the past, but environmentalists hope the power shift on Capitol Hill will change that.

The legislation would protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the Alaskan coast, which covers nearly 500,000 hectares.

The Bush administration has fought for the energy sector’s right to exploit the coastal strip.

However it seems the newly Democratic-controlled Congress is trying to place the reserve beyond the grasp of the oil industry grasp for good.

Those in favour of exploiting the area’s oil say the US needs to be less dependent on foreign reserves and that Alaska’s economy desperately needs the money.

The region is thought to contain more than 10 billion barrels of oil, which President George W Bush says is needed to lessen reliance on imported fuel.

But Alaska Wilderness League spokeswoman Betsy Goll says the President is wrong.

“The oil industry can go on in America without drilling in the Arctic refuge,” she said.

“But this is a real opportunity for America to look closer at its habits and to start adopting renewable energy sources so we don’t need to drill in critical areas like the Arctic refuge.”

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