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Posted on  

January 16, 2002

'President Bartlet' Urges American to Save Arctic Refuge


The following was released by Defenders of Wildlife:

At least one American "president" favors preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet on NBC-TV's popular show "The West Wing," is calling for Americans to urge their senators to save the refuge from oil drilling.

Sheen sent his message today in an e-mail to the environmental organization Defenders of Wildlife's electronic network of nearly 500,000 supporters.

"The voices of the special interests are loud and omnipresent," he said. "But ours is a strong political democracy where the will of the majority still is the most important factor in determining U.S. policy."

A long-time committed environmentalist and activist for progressive causes, Sheen urged citizens to send e-mails or faxes to their senators through the Web site, www.SaveArcticRefuge.org.

"We're pleased to have 'President Bartlet's' support in the fight to protect the Arctic refuge. I wish President Bush shared his concerns for the welfare of this unique national treasure," Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen said. "In trying to exploit the Arctic refuge, the Bush administration is going against the wishes of the majority of Americans who recognize that it just isn't worth it to destroy such a magnificent wilderness for at best only a six-month supply of oil."

Sheen called the Arctic refuge "our finest remaining wildlife sanctuary" and warned that "we could forever lose this incomparable ecosystem that is home to hundreds of bird species, polar bears, muskoxen, grizzlies, wolves, caribou and more."

Sheen added: "Drilling for oil in the refuge, when it can't reach market for probably 10 years, is definitely not a plan to help us promote energy security. It is a plan whose overriding purpose is not to help this country but rather to maximize oil industry profits."

After a year of public debate, the Senate is scheduled to vote next month on legislation that would increase U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and could open the Arctic refuge and vast stretches of other pristine public land to commercial exploitation.

Sheen said Congress should adopt an energy plan "that both provides enhanced energy security and protects the environment for our children and their children" through alternative and renewable energy sources and improved efficiency.

"In my TV role as President Bartlet, I am frequently inspired by the small yet profound contributions our citizens make in building our great country," Sheen said in his e-mail message. "Now in the real world, I want to urge my fellow citizens to help shape our energy future in a manner that both ensures a vital and secure economy and protects our proud environmental heritage."

SaveArcticRefuge.org, a project of Defenders of Wildlife, already has generated more than 1 million e-mails and faxes to Congress and President Bush urging them not to drill for oil in the Arctic refuge. The Web site contains in-depth reports and analysis on the issue.

--- 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 480,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on environmental issues. For timely information on environmental issues, visit www.defenders.org and subscribe to DENLines, a free e-mail alert newsletter.



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