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[GreenYes] Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The White House e-mail system has been so overwhelmed by people petitioning the president to reverse his position on allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of e-mails have been returned to their senders, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

In only the first month of Defenders' electronic petition drive to save the refuge, supporters sent more than 650,000 e-mails to President Bush and Congress.

``This phenomenal response shows that people are overwhelmingly against exploitation of 'America's Serengeti,''' Defenders president Rodger Schlickeisen says. ``It's quickly mushrooming into the largest Internet petition campaign ever.''

The e-mails have been sent from the Defenders' Web site -- as part of the organization's massive online petition drive to protect the nation's most magnificent wildlife sanctuary and one of the few truly wild places left in the country.

Because its computers cannot handle the volume, the White House has returned thousands of e-mails. Computer system administrators at Defenders have concluded that an overwhelmed e-mail system at the White House is apparently to blame. An administrator sent a letter to the White House pointing out the problem, but there has been no response.

Senate Republicans are expected to introduce a bill next week to allow drilling in the refuge's coastal plain, even though the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the wildlife preserve holds only a six-month supply of oil.

``BP Amoco and other multinational oil giants would destroy the habitat with its rich diversity of wildlife -- including caribou, polar bears, wolves, muskoxen and millions of migratory birds -- all for a supply of oil that would only last 180 days,'' Schlickeisen says. ``And we wouldn't see a drop of that oil for 10 years. Obviously, that won't solve our energy problems.''

The first to sign Defenders' petition was Jamie Rappaport Clark, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Clinton administration.

``When the Bush administration proposes to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its coastal plain to oil development, they are advocating sticking oil wells right smack in the biological heart of the wildest place left in America. It's tugging at a thread that could unravel the entire 19 million acre Arctic Refuge and a lot more as well,'' says Clark, who directed the Fish and Wildlife Service from 1997 until Bush took office.

The petition urges Bush and Congress not to allow oil exploration in the refuge, the only remaining five percent of Alaska's North Slope not already open to drilling. Recent public-opinion polls show most Americans are against it, and even those who voted for Bush oppose drilling by a 52 percent to 37 percent margin.


Defenders of Wildlife is a leading non-profit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 425,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species and biodiversity issues. 

For more information, go to or

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100/Fax (608) 233-0011

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