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Forum, Nov. 28: Arctic oil can’t be extracted without damaging the refuge

Published: 11/27/2019 10:00:18 PM
Modified: 11/27/2019 10:00:13 PM
Arctic oil can’t be extracted without damaging the refuge

I am writing in response to Patrick O’Connor’s letter concerning oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (“Arctic oil can be safely extracted,” Nov. 18).

He states that the caribou population has increased since the construction of the Alaska Pipeline. This is misleading (and debatable according to several studies) because there is an important difference between caribou herds and their territory.

The Central Alaskan caribou herd (ranging in the pipeline area) has a large territory in which to move to suitable calving grounds. The pregnant and nursing cows and their calves can move far from the oil fields and pipeline. And they do. They avoid roads and the pipeline while calving.

However, the Porcupine caribou herd, which calves in the Coastal Plain, is not capable of moving to other calving grounds. This long, narrow strip of land bordered by the Brooks Range to the south and the Beaufort Sea to the north is the only land within ANWR that provides the nutrient-rich foliage needed by the nursing cows and their calves, the long flat plains for easy detection of predators, and the vitally important sea breezes for relief from mosquitoes. “Insect harassment” is a very real threat to cows and calves. It can and does kill calves.

It is true that, if there is recoverable oil, it will be in a small area of the refuge. But because it is small, it will have a devastating impact. Roughly 40,000 calves are born each year in this small area and there is no other area in ANWR for them to go.

Permanent roads may not be built, but the tracks of vehicles driven over the arctic tundra during World War II are still quite visible today. Tundra plants and lichen are extremely fragile, taking hundreds of years to regenerate. Any access road created there will be permanent.

Those who say the area “is some of the most desolate and unattractive territory” are entitled to their opinion, but using this sentiment to justify drilling for oil is simply wrong.


Thetford Center

There’s a recycling option for Amazon shipping envelopes

For more than a year now, Amazon and other companies have been shipping products in recyclable envelopes. Finding a place to recycle them has been a problem, however, as they are not widely accepted. Good news: The Co-op Food Stores in Lebanon, Hanover and White River Junction accept these recyclable envelopes at the customer service desk. Please help reduce landfill waste by making the effort to recycle these plastic mailing envelopes.



Shuttered colleges could be a solution to Vt.’s prison woes

Vermont is sending inmates out of state, and existing state prisons need work. Reports from the correctional centers indicate that many people remain in prison because they have no place to move to.

Meanwhile homelessness is increasing and towns struggle to find a warm place for people to sleep (“As winter nears, worries worsen,” Nov. 23).

At the same time, at least four Vermont colleges are closing or being sold, and more may soon be on the chopping block.

A new prison might cost $50 million. The colleges, or part of them may be available for $4 million to $10 million.

Why not repurpose part of a college as a correctional center, housing for the homeless or both? A former college would do well to hold nonviolent prisoners, and could also serve as an educational or tech center.


Bradford, Vt.

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