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A budget sneak attack on our sacred places

President Bush declared in his 2006 State of the Union address that the
United States is addicted to oil and talked about charting a new energy
course. Four days later, the president immediately resumed his role as the
oil industry's primary advocate and pusher by sneaking Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge lease sale revenues in his budget.

Once again attempting to include the refuge in the budget shows a pattern
of questionable ethics toward tribes comparable to the Jack Abramoff
scandals. Slipping it into the budget shows a persistent and blatant
disregard for the basic human rights of the people of the Gwich'in Nation.

The fact that there even is a tribe left in this country that still has a
semblance of traditional subsistence culture with a diet that is 60 -- 70
percent from the land is incredible. As Jonathon Solomon, chairman of the
Gwich'in Steering Committee, has stated on behalf of his people: "The
lifestyle of the Gwich'in needs to be protected and along with the calving
and nursery grounds of the Arctic Refuge."

Rather than behaving like an obsessed dealer catering to social addictions,
it would be sensible to lead the United States on a new course of action in
terms of its energy policy. We must not cater to a philosophy of "drill --
drill -- drill" without a vision of the future. The United States only has
3 percent of the world's oil supply, yet continues to consume 25 percent of
that supply.

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Over and over again, Congress has not approved drilling in the ANWR; and
much time has been spent debating this DOA issue. Instead of drilling the
ANWR, we must look forward to meet our energy needs and embrace clean
energy solutions that keep our economy moving while protecting the natural
world for the future.

"It is extremely foolish to gamble with the budget of the United States
based on uncertain projections of lease revenues for the coastal plain of
the ANWR. It is even more foolish to gamble with the upcoming generations
of the Gwich'in with such careless shortsighted lack of concern," Sarah
James, Gwich'in Steering Committee board member, has declared in numerous
international forums.

Luci Beach is executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee.