Dealing a blow to advocates of natural resource extraction in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, biologists working for the U.S. Geological Survey have produced a report finding that oil and gas drilling in the refuge could substantially threaten caribou, musk oxen, polar bears, migrating birds, and other wildlife. Although the report acknowledges that the risk could be mitigated by careful management, it nonetheless belies the repeated assertions of Interior Secretary Gale Norton that drilling would not pose any threat to wildlife in the refuge. “Once again the administration has released a report undermining its own case,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). To prepare the 78-page report, the biologists examined 12 years of research into the ecology of the area targeted for development, the Arctic Refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain.
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