As the date draws nearer to the day that will decide the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Swarthmore students and environmentalist group, PennEnvironment, are seeking to gain the attention of representatives voting on the bill that may open up the reserve for oil drilling.
The importance of this bill, campus organizer of PennEnvironment, Jen Wilson, explains, is two-fold. “The first reason that this bill is so important is that this is setting a precedent for opening protected lands…. Second, this sends a message about where we’re taking our energy in the future.”
This Friday, September 16, at 12:30, a thirty minute rally will be held on Parrish Beach to protest the bill. In addition to a speaker, refreshments will be made available and the entire rally is being videotaped. The videotape will then be sent to congressman Jim Gerlach. Gerlach’s past votings have been against the bill, which includes cutting funding for higher education.
So far, events organized have included a beanbag toss held this past Saturday, and a student phone-bank held Wednesday, September 14. The phone-bank was specifically designed to reach constituents of congressman Gerlach.
The bill is not scheduled to be voted on until late October, and Wilson urges interested students to get involved as opportunities, including a rally in Washington, D.C. on the 20th of September, are still open.
Andrew Scott Taylor ’09, among those students working at the phone-bank on Wednesday, when asked why he felt students should be interested in fighting this bill responded, “If the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last truly preserved places, is opened up, there will be no place that is safe. That looming possibility is enough to interest anyone.”
Students interested in learning more about how they can be involved in protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge can contact Jen Wilson at jen at pennenvironment.org .