August 1, 2005

Canadians oppose U.S. oil drilling plans in pristine habitat bordering Yukon

A survey conducted early last month on behalf of World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) suggests that over half of Canadians oppose the U.S. government's plans to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, which borders Canada's Yukon territory.

The poll of just over 1,000 Canadians by EKOS Research found 54% opposed to the Bush administration's push to open up the ANWR to drilling. Only 12% favoured the proposal.

Opposition was found to be even stronger among Canadians who have been following the issue. For those reporting high familiarity with the issue, 73% said they opposed it.

The coastal plain of the ANWR is home to the calving area for the Porcupine caribou herd, which lives most of the year in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. This sensitive area, and the 180,000 strong caribou herd, could be destroyed if drilling takes place there.

In September, the White House will ask Congress to vote on the Budget Reconciliation Act, in which permission to drill in the ANWR is buried.

Tapping into the well of Canadian opposition, WWF-Canada is launching a new advertising campaign calling on Canadians to help stop plans for drilling in the ANWR, and giving an opportunity for people to express their concerns to government at www.donotdrill.ca.

"In less than two weeks we have collected over 10,000 petitions, and while more than 90% of the signatures are from Canadians, 10% are from people from other parts of the globe who have chosen to speak out," said Shawn Mitchell, WWF-Canada's vice-president of communications. "This issue resonates with people who are worried that governments are not making sustainable choices about natural resources and the environment. It is not too late to influence the outcome of the September vote," Mitchell added.

The ads can be seen at www.donotdrill.ca, along with maps and photographs. More information is available from Wendy Douglas, manager of communications at WWF-Canada, 416/484-7726, E-mail wdouglas@wwfcanada.org, or from Charlie Graves, research director for EKOS Research, 416/598-8002, E-mail cgraves@ekos.com, Web site www.ekos.com.

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