Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) to your local or regional newspaper is an effective and easy way to reach a large audience with your message. This is an important tool for organizing, especially now! LTEs are published on the editorial page, which is one of the most read sections in the paper. Congressional staffers also tell us that members of Congress keep a close eye on media coverage, including LTEs in their local papers, so they can keep a 'pulse' on issues of importance to their constituents.
ACT NOW: Write an LTE to support President Biden's commitment to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Help elevate the Refuge as much as we can to support President Biden's commitment to stop the advancement of development in the Refuge.
Day One of the Biden administration, the President signed an Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. Included in this action is a moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is incredible news, after the outgoing Trump administration held a lease sale in their final weeks and awarded leases in their final hours.
President Biden has made protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a top priority and in June Secretary Haalland announced that all leases and related activity are suspended pending new analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.
These actions have bought us time to keep oil drills out of the Arctic Refuge, one of our nation’s most majestic public lands. But with leases in oil company hands and another lease sale on the horizon, this is only a temporary fix. We need to restore protections for good, and it’s up to Congress to make that happen.
We must now urge Congress to include protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the upcoming budget reconciliation package -- the same process that opened the Arctic Refuge to begin with -- to ensure this magnificent place remains intact and untouched.
Use these talking points and the ideas in the sample LTEs below as they are, change as desired or craft your own letter - letting your passion, experiences and reasons come through!
Three sample letters:
1. Failed Lease Sale Word Count: 187
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s most majestic public lands, home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd, denning polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, and nearly 200 species of migratory birds. Its biological heart, the coastal plain, is no place for oil and gas development.
After decades of bipartisan support protecting this sensitive ecological region, language was snuck into the 2017 Tax Act that opened it to oil and gas drilling. On January 6th, the Trump administration rushed a lease sale of these lands, which generated a measly 1% in revenue of what drilling advocates had promised. Those leases are financially unviable and threaten to destroy one of America’s last great wildernesses. This destruction must be halted.
The Biden administration has taken temporary action to delay drilling, but it’s up to Congress to restore protections and keep drills out of the Arctic Refuge for good. I urge Representative [INSERT NAME] to commit to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the upcoming budget reconciliation package -- the same process that opened the Arctic Refuge to begin with -- to ensure this magnificent place remains intact and untouched.
2. Indigenous Focus Word Count: 170
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has sustained the Gwich’in people for thousands of years – they in fact call the coastal plain “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” A nursery for species year round, these sacred lands support thousands of calving Porcupine caribou in the spring, nesting migratory birds in the summer, and denning polar bears in the winter.
The Gwich’in people have worked to protect these lands for generations. They strongly oppose drilling in the Refuge, which would alter caribou migrations and population, risking their food source and way of life. Protecting the caribou is a matter of basic human rights.
It’s time for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to honor the rights of the Gwich’in and restore protections for this sacred place through the upcoming budget reconciliation package. I’m urging Representatives from [INSERT YOUR STATE] to commit to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the upcoming budget reconciliation package to ensure this magnificent place remains intact and untouched. I hope our Senators do the same.
3. Climate Action Word Count: 147
The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is critical habitat, supporting thousands of calving caribou in the spring, nesting migratory birds in the summer, and denning polar bears in the winter. The tundra of the refuge also stores vast amounts of carbon and is on the forefront of impacts from climate change.
Dangerous oil drilling would compound the devastating climate impacts already being felt in the Arctic Refuge and allow for the exposure of carbon emissions. It would worsen climate pollution, harming communities already bearing the brunt of the changing climate. This is why we must restore protections and prevent destructive oil exploration and drilling in the refuge. Right now is our best opportunity. Congress must act.
I urge [INSERT NAME] to commit to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the upcoming budget reconciliation package to ensure this magnificent place remains intact and untouched.
Additional talking points:
- The Arctic Refuge is one of our nation’s most majestic public lands, home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd, denning polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, and nearly 200 species of migratory birds. Its biological heart, the coastal plain, is no place for oil and gas development.
- The misguided rush to undermine long-held protections of the Arctic Refuge is yet another example of Interior and the Trump administration disregarding Indigenous rights in the rush to sell out our public lands to big oil interests.
- The Gwich’in are spiritually and culturally tied to the health of the Porcupine Caribou Herd and the coastal plain. Protecting the caribou is a matter of basic human rights for them. Drilling threatens to alter caribou migrations and populations, risking the Gwich’in way of life.
- Oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge would threaten Indigenous rights, industrialize one of America’s last wild places, and exacerbate climate change. It’s also bad business. The remote nature of the Refuge, combined with global appetite to limit climate pollution, make drilling in the coastal plain an expensive risk that’s not worth taking.
- The coastal plain is the most important onshore denning habitat for polar bears in the United States, and mother polar bears with cubs are increasingly denning in this area as annual sea ice melts more quickly due to a warming climate. Oil and gas development in the coastal plain could forever damage this essential habitat for the species.
- The case for protecting this sacred land is so clear that we have now seen all 6 major U.S. banks -- Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Bank of America -- among the two dozen banks around the world that have announced they will not fund any new oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge and across the Arctic region.
Follow these tips:
- Respond to an article in the paper. The best letters are those that are in response to an article that ran in the paper, and many papers require that you reference the specific article. Begin your letter by citing the original story by name, date and author. Some papers do occasionally print LTEs noting a lack of coverage on a specific issue — If this is the case, begin your LTE by stating your concern that the paper hasn't focused on this important issue.
- Follow the paper’s directions. Information on how and to whom to submit a letter-to-the-editor is usually found right on the letters page in your paper. Follow these guidelines to increase the likelihood that your letter will be printed.
- Share your expertise. If you have relevant qualifications to the topic you're addressing be sure to include that in your letter.
- Refer to the legislator or corporation you are trying to influence by name. If your letter includes a legislator’s name, in almost all cases staff will give him or her the letter to read personally.
- Write the letter in your own words. Editors want letters in their papers to be original. Feel free to use our messaging tips, but also take the time to write the letter in your own words.
- Keep your letter short, focused and interesting. In general, letters should be under 200 words — often 150 or less is best. Stay focused on one (or, at the most, two) main point(s) and get to the main point in the first two sentences. If possible, include interesting facts, relevant personal experience and any local connections to the issue. If your letter is longer than 200 words, it will likely be edited or not printed.
- Include your contact information. Be sure to include your name, address and a daytime phone number; the paper will contact you before printing your letter.
If you are interested in writing and submitting an LTE or have a question, contact Lois (at) AlaskaWild.org. If you send in an LTE, we'd love to hear about it so that we can keep an eye out for it. Or better yet, let us know when you get published!