Senator Mike Dewine, Senator George Voinovic
United States of America


Bristol Bay, nestled just north of Alaska's Aleutian Island chain, is described by the National Marine Fisheries Service as the "single most important region of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for the conservation of marine mammals and endangered species and the protection and management of fishery resources." It has been protected from offshore oil and gas drilling for the last fourteen years. Now, however, it has become a primary target for drilling. A key U.S. Senate committee recently proposed deleting the longstanding, bipartisan protections for Bristol Bay, despite White House support for extended protections.

The living marine resources and global ecological significance of Bristol Bay far outweigh its projected oil and gas value. Bristol Bay:

- shelters the world's largest run of sockeye salmon, a key halibut nursery conservation area, and important herring and king crab fisheries, all of which are mainstays of the regional economy;
- provides the migration corridor for millions of adult salmon and the migration and feeding habitat for numerous seabirds and marine mammals;
- is virtually surrounded by a critical coastal habitat for marine mammals, including the world's premier walrus breeding areas;
- shelters one of the largest eelgrass beds on the planet, Izembek Lagoon, an underwater meadow crucial to the bay's fish, birds, and invertebrates.

This tremendous concentration of wildlife is threatened by routine drilling discharges and accidental spills from proposed offshore drilling operations and risky tankering of oil.

Fortunately, the House of Representatives has voted to extend the moratorium protecting Bristol Bay for another year, so debate over the protections should continue this September, when a joint House-Senate conference committee is expected to take up the issue.

Bristol Bay won a reprieve from the dangers of offshore drilling once before, when 23 oil leases there were relinquished by the petroleum industry soon after the tragic Exxon-Valdez tanker spill devastated Alaska's Prince William Sound. The people and wildlife of Prince William Sound still have not recovered from the 1989 spill, and yet the oil industry now wants to risk an even bigger catastrophe in Bristol Bay, where seasonal broken sea ice, fierce storms, and rough ocean conditions would make oil spill cleanup impossible. The wildlife of Bristol Bay needs your help!!
*Note, the petition may be sent to other senators depending on who signs it!

I urge you to support continued protection for Alaska's fishery-rich Bristol Bay, as Congress completes work on the Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2004. These protections have had bipartisan support for 14 years, and both the House of Representatives and the President have recommended continuation of the offshore drilling moratorium for Bristol Bay. It is time for the Senate to follow suit.

Please continue congressional protection for Bristol Bay, as recommended by the White House and the House of Representatives.

The Protect Alaska's Bristol BAy petition to Senator Mike Dewine, Senator George Voinovic was written by Anonymous and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.