AUDUBON ADVISORY Audubon's Twice-Monthly Update From Washington, D.C. March 8, 2002 (Vol. 2002, Issue 5) ARCTIC VOTE LOOMS LARGE IN SENATE On Tuesday, March 5, the U.S. Senate began its debate on the energy bill - sweeping legislation that will likely include a vote on whether to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Exactly when they will take up the drilling issue is still up in the air. It had been widely reported that the Senate would vote on drilling in the Arctic Refuge as soon as the energy bill hit the Senate floor, but that has not been the case. Now it's likely they will not take it up until the end of the energy debate - which could be a week or two away. As you know, the House has already passed a measure opening the Refuge to oil drilling, and the President fully supports drilling as well. It's up to the Senate to protect the Refuge. The Arctic Refuge, including its coastal plain - where they look to drill - has extraordinary value as an intact ecosystem, with all its native birdlife. Millions of birds nest, migrate through, or spend the winter in the Refuge. Their migrations take them to each of the 50 states, and they cross great oceans and follow distant coastlines to reach the lands and waters of six continents. Keeping this Refuge intact is critical for the survival of these birds. For over a year, we have been writing on this issue, and encouraging our readers to take action and help protect the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling. And now the debate is heating up to unprecedented levels in the media, from special interests in Washington, D.C. and across the country. As we have reported previously, pro-drilling special interests are using their political influence and power to pressure Senators into supporting opening the Refuge to drilling. They erroneously claim that opening the Refuge to oil drilling will help reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East. This is simply not the case! Once again, here are the facts: 1.) Experts agree that drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge will do little or nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, nor will it address America's long-term energy needs. There is only a 6 month supply of oil, and even oil industry officials admit that oil wouldn't be available for 10 years. Even with the most optimistic estimates of Arctic Refuge oil added to the oil fields off our coasts and everywhere else in the U.S., we still have only 3 to 4% of the world's oil reserves. 2.) We consume at least 25% of the world's production of oil. At our current rate of consumption, we will go from importing 56% to well over 60% of our oil in coming decades - even including Arctic Refuge oil! 3.) One out of every eight barrels of oil our nation imports comes form the Middle East. We get the bulk of our oil from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and here in the United States. And we can get more oil from our existing oil fields. Utilizing new technologies, we can recover 6 billion barrels from fields in New Mexico, and another 60 billion barrels from fields in Texas and Oklahoma. 4.) There is another place where we can "drill" for oil and find far more than we will ever get in the Arctic Refuge - Detroit. By increasing fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks by just a few miles per gallon, we can replace all the oil we import from the Middle East. That will create jobs, and help free our nation from the influence of foreign oil. Keep in mind the U.S. House voted against this proposal when it passed its energy bill in August. The only way to declare independence from foreign oil powers is to dramatically reduce our dependence on oil. We can reduce our reliance on foreign oil and secure our energy future by using American's technological know-how to develop newer, cleaner sources of energy. We hope the U.S. Senate will spend a good portion of their debate focused on those issue. In the meantime, we need to keep the pressure on! Please continue contacting your U.S. Senators and urge them to oppose any and all efforts to open the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling. To get more information, hear our latest Arctic radio ads and view a list of key Senators who will cast the deciding votes on this issue, please visit our Protect the Arctic website at http://www.protectthearctic.com. A Quick Look At Other Issues = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = NO ACTION FROM CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON THE FARM BILL: The House-Senate Conference Committee working on the farm bill has not yet come up with a final proposal. It's likely they'll do so in the coming weeks. As you know, Audubon supports the Senate-passed version, which includes significant increases in funding for various conservation programs. This gives us a chance to protect birds, wildlife and their habitat on private lands. These programs include the Wetlands Reserve Program, conservation Reserve Program, the Farmland Protection Program (FPP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the newly proposed Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) Audubon continues to work to convince both House & Senate conferees to accept the Senate- passed version of the conservation title. You can help ensure they do! Please call your lawmakers and urge them and their colleagues on the Conference Committee to support the Senate-passed levels of conservation funding and the Senate-passed language for the Grasslands Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program in conference. For more information, or for the names of the lawmakers on the Conference Committee who will be making these critical determinations, please goto: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=46 MORE LETTERS ARE NEEDED TO SAVE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS: There is still time to weigh in with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and help prevent the agency from initiating a program to kill by poison 2 million blackbirds per year! The poisoning threatens to kill numerous other birds including the steeply declining populations of grassland songbirds. The Department is conducting the blackbird poisoning in an effort to reduce sunflower crop damage in the Northern plains. To learn more and to take action today, goto: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?Subject=41 STILL NO WORD YET ON FATE OF UNFPA: For the fourth week, still no news from the White House on whether the Bush Administration will zero out the U.S. $34 million contribution to the UNFPA - the agency responsible for providing educational information, contraceptive devices and medical training for family planning programs. International family planning improves the ability of people to manage their lives and their natural resources in a more sustainable way, which in turn helps protect birds and their habitat. To find out more and to take action today, goto: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/registration.asp?subject=37 SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD: Audubon continues its effort to ensure your seafood choices include swordfish, shrimp, scallops, and yellowfin tuna. But these and 102 other species of marine fish are overfished - being caught and killed faster than they can reproduce. The U.S. Congress has an opportunity to help restore and conserve overfished marine species by passing the Fisheries Recovery Act - and you can help convince them to do so! For more information, or to find out how you can help, goto: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=39 . PLEASE HELP RESTORE THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER: As you know, a great river is in crisis. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to suspend its ten-year, $50 million study of Upper Mississippi River construction projects due to serious flaws with its economic and environmental analyses. In the new plan, the Corps has said it wants to involve other agencies, nonprofit organizations and the general public in a "collaborative process" to develop a comprehensive management plan that includes flood control, navigation and ecosystem needs in a balanced approach. We hope you'll participate! Click this link to learn more and take action today: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=42 AUDUBON APPLAUDS BIPARTISAN CORPS REFORM BILL On Wednesday, March 6, Audubon today lauded bipartisan legislation that would protect the environment by reshaping the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The measure, introduced by Senators Robert Smith (R-NH), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and John McCain (R-AZ) aims to ensure that water resource projects undertaken by the Corps are based on sound economic and environmental principles. Many Corps projects have proven to be destructive to the environment while providing few actual benefits to the general public. "Billions of federal taxpayer dollars have been spent on questionable projects that destroy America's wetlands and degrade our rivers and coastal areas," said Lois Schiffer, Audubon's senior vice president for public policy. "It's time to put the brakes on the senseless destruction of aquatic wildlife habitat." The Corps of Engineers Modernization and Improvement Act of 2002 would create an independent peer review process to examine high-impact projects such as dams and levees, assessing their fiscal and environmental impacts. The legislation also: ? directs the Corps to reassess its current projects and avoid future ventures without clear financial benefits, ? calls on the Corps to show an economic benefit of $1.50 for every dollar it spends on a project, an increase from the current 1:1 ratio, ? bars the Corps from including any economic benefits derived from the destruction of wetlands as it calculates a project's value, and ? requires local boosters of Corps-managed projects to pay a larger share of the projects' costs. Stay tuned for more information on this legislation as it moves through the legislative process! CLEAN WATER NETWORK ANNOUNCES CLEAN WATER PROCLAMATION CAMPAIGN - SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE TODAY! This year signifies the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Audubon, as a member of the Clean Water Network, is helping to launch a special component of the Network's overall anniversary effort: the City Clean Water Proclamation Campaign. The campaign's goals are to empower organizations, communities and local governments to use the Clean Water Act to protect our precious waters and to revitalize them as you rejuvenate your neighborhood. This may be the project your Chapter is looking for to help protect precious wetlands and other bird habitats in your community! We look to engage 100 cities nationwide to take a public stand for clean water by signing onto a clean water proclamation, and making specific commitments to achieve clean water. The proclamation will put your city or local government on record as supporting clean water. It will also give Audubon a positive, proactive opportunity to work with local governments to recommit to the Clean Water Act on its 30th anniversary. Getting involved in this important effort is easy! All you have to do is ask your city council or local government to flesh out its commitment by declaring actions it will take to prove their clean water promise is real. On September 18, 2002, we will hold a series of press events across the country with our local governments announcing the proclamation, the designation of October 18 as Clean Water Act Day, and the city's new clean water goals. And the Network is available to help every step of the way! To get started: 1.) Visit the Network's web site at www.cwn.org/docs/30thanniversary/city_clean_water_proclamation_ca.htm for a sample proclamation and ways you can use the proclamation to work with your city council or local government to recommit to the goals of the Clean Water Act. 2.) Contact Ami Grace at: cleanwaternet@xxxxxxx or 202-289-2421 if you would like to take part in the campaign. You can also e-mail the Network from the web link above. We will make sure Network members within the same state are coordinated. We will also be holding conference calls this spring to help Network members share strategies and ideas. 3.) And finally, be sure to let us know by e-mailing us at audubonaction@xxxxxxxxxxx, so we can share what you're doing with other Chapters throughout the country! We hope you'll join this multi-organizational effort and get your city to commit to releasing the proclamation and to identify what proactive clean water goal it will be committing to by July. And keep checking the network's website for more information and materials in preparation for the press event on September 18th! Audubon Advisory Audubon Public Policy Division 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. 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