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Alaska Drilling: “For the Birds” in Tennessee?

November 19, 2007

Nashville, TN – As duck hunting season opens this weekend, Tennessee sporting groups also want to "bag" an oil and gas drilling plan that could cut into future bird-hunting seasons. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is clearing the way for oil and gas development on every available acre near Teshekpuk Lake. It's an area of Northern Alaska that is the "bird nursery" for Tennessee, and the rest of the United States.

The lake also happens to be located on the National Petroleum Reserve. Conservation scientist Steve Zack, of the Wildlife Conservation Society says whether your goal is to watch them or eat them, there will be fewer ducks and geese in Tennessee if the drilling at Teshekpuk is allowed to go full bore.

"All of those are Arctic-breeding birds, and in many cases, are subject to some of these expanded oil drilling activities that are just about to get underway again in the Arctic."

The lake is part of millions of acres available for oil and gas development in Alaska. Zack says there are plenty of other sites more suitable for drilling.

"There is ample room for both good, modern technologies, and real protection for this singular region up there."

U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne will make the final call on whether the lake area will be drilled. Ducks Unlimited is among the sporting groups calling for the lake to be "off limits" for oil production, but supporters say it will lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - TN