Just last week there was an alarming new development -- oil exploration lease sales for Alaska's Chukchi Seas - prime polar bear habitat --officially began.
This area has been off-limits to drilling since 1991, but the new lease sales have encouraged oil companies to bid in epic proportions, with the result that oil lease rights to nearly 30 million acres of disappearing polar bear habitat were auctioned off - an area that is home to an estimated one-tenth of the world's polar bears!
There is simply no time to lose. The federal agency in charge of the sales has another 90 days to review the bids. And we need to get the polar bear on the Endangered Species List right now so the oil companies will be forced to clear more hurdles before drilling could occur in this sensitive area.
To: US Senate
I urge you to put polar bear protection ahead of new oil development by supporting legislation by Rep. Edward Markey (H.R. 5058) and Senator John Kerry (S. 2568) to stop Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea -- at least until the Secretary of the Interior determines whether to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
As the U.S. Government considers listing these animals under the Endangered Species Act, it should not first seriously threaten the health of its most vital habitat by allowing offshore drilling.
Please act immediately to save the polar bear by supporting this important legislation. We need to take real steps to protect the Polar Bear and aid its recovery, and to stop dangerous and dirty offshore oil drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
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