July 13, 2005 03:30 ET

WWF-Canada Fights Oil Development in ANWR

“All That Pristine White Snow Will Actually Make it Easier to Spot Oil Spills" Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 13, 2005) - World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) launched a new advertising campaign today calling on Canadians to help stop oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. The coastal plain of the ANWR is the calving area for the Porcupine caribou herd, which lives the rest of the year in the Yukon and NWT. In September, the George Bush government will ask Congress to vote on the Budget Reconciliation Act, in which permission for drilling in the ANWR is buried.

WWF-Canada has developed a clever, edgy and thought-provoking ad campaign taking a new approach to how they engage the people of Canada. The satirical ad campaign, consisting of a television ad, radio ad and three print ads is designed to call Canadians to action on this urgent cross-border issue. The campaign encourages people to go to www.donotdrill.ca where they can sign a petition to Prime Minister Martin imploring him to make the voice of Canadians heard by the American government.

The ad features a fictitious character named Bill Baker who leads a phony pro-development lobby called the National Association for Progress that is advocating tearing up the ANWR in search of "sweet crude." Mr. Baker uses such compelling arguments as "there are over a hundred species of birds with soft downy feathers, perfect for soaking up oil spills." The ads offer Canadian viewers an alternative - if you don't think drilling in a wildlife refuge makes sense, go to www.donotdrill.ca to say so.

The coastal plain of the ANWR is located in the remote northeast corner of Alaska with gently rolling tundra, situated between the Arctic Ocean and breathtaking mountains, and is the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge. It is home to caribou, migratory birds, polar bears and other wildlife. This intact ecosystem provides critical birthing and nursery grounds for the 129,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd, which then migrates back across the Canadian border to winter in the Yukon and NWT. This caribou herd has been the mainstay of the Gwitch'in people for thousands of years. The ANWR is adjoined by two Canadian national parks - Ivvavik (formerly North Yukon) and Vuntut through which the caribou migrate. Canada has been working on protecting similar areas in the NWT's Mackenzie Valley through the NWT Protected Areas Strategy and will continue to work with partners and encourage the Canadian governments and regulatory system to make this issue a top priority prior to any approvals of a major gas pipeline.

"WWF-Canada staff have just returned from the ANWR, witnessing the incredible calving area of the Porcupine caribou herd, and observing the young calves taking their very first steps as their mothers encourage and protect them", said Mike Russill, President and CEO, WWF-Canada, "The coastal plain of the ANWR is nature's maternity ward for a herd of over 129,000 caribou, destroy this pristine habitat and you will snuff out this magnificent creature."

The majority of US senators are opposed to drilling in this pristine, unsullied land and therefore the US Congress has failed to enact an energy bill in recent years. Permission to drill for oil in the ANWR has now been buried in the Budget Reconciliation Act, which only requires 51 votes to pass, instead of the usual 60 out of 100 votes. Development proponents are abusing this seldom-used, back-door manoeuvre to open the ANWR through the annual budget process rather than risk losing a vote again on the energy bill. It is the intention of WWF-Canada that by making the voice of Canadians heard, our government will influence those votes and stop the ANWR coastal plain from being opened to oil drilling.

For more than 30 years, the WWF global-family has been engaged in protecting wildlife in Alaska. In recent years, WWF-US activists have sent 175,000 letters and made thousands of phone calls to their representatives in Congress urging that the refuge be protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System. WWF-Canada and WWF-UK have worked along side WWF-US to help ensure no harm comes to this internationally-significant region.

The television ads can be seen at www.donotdrill.ca

High resolution photos and maps are also available at www.donotdrill.ca

For more information contact:

Wendy Douglas, Manager, Communications WWF-Canada
416-484-7726 or wdouglas@wwfcanada.org


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