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Onshore and Offshore: The Human Cost of Oil Drilling

Drilling put in motion by Clinton and Bush have had such devastating effects on Arctic communities it fits the UN definition of cultural genocide.

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There are also health problems in Nuiqsut associated with the oil development. Rosemary is a former community health aide practitioner. She was the first to sound the alarm about the skyrocketing cases of asthma as the oil wells marched ever closer to Nuiqsut. The closest wells with their flaring gases and air pollution are now within four miles of -- and almost surround -- the village.

The refrain we hear from the other villages is: "We don't want to happen here what happened in Nuiqsut!" But unless other Americans act to intervene, the Inupiat culture will almost surely be assimilated.

Millions of Americans are protesting the Bush administration's headlong rush to open coastal seas of California, Virginia, Florida, and other Lower 48 states to oil and gas development. These well-meaning citizens don't realize that a coastal moratorium in the Lower 48 only means more pressure to develop in Alaska.

Why don't we all learn more about Bush's U.S. Arctic Policy along with Inupiat children like Ricky? If the Alaska story "went into you," maybe you could help protect our coasts along with yours.

The U.S. Interior Department is accepting comments on the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas (Arctic Ocean) Oil & Gas Lease Sales until March 16, 2009. We are all in this together.

Spill survivor and author Riki Ott shares insights on disaster trauma and recovery nationwide and in Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (Chelsea Green, 2008). Ott is a former "fisherma'am" and now a full-time community activist, committed to making human values count over corporate profits.

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