WASHINGTON -- Because sometimes to get your point across you need to dress up as an Arctic Tern, scores of anti-drilling activists on Tuesday gathered outside the White House dressed in fuzzy onesies and polar bear masks.
The demonstration -- organized by Green Peace, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Credo Action and Alaska Wilderness League, among other environmental groups -- comes as part of a larger effort to pressure President Barack Obama to stop drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea, home to such iconic species as the polar bear, bowhead whale and walrus.
"We're out here today to deliver a million comments to Obama asking him not to allow Shell to drill this summer," Leah Donahey, western Arctic and oceans program director at Alaska Wilderness League, told The Huffington Post at Tuesday's rally.
Last fall, the Obama administration affirmed a decision to offer millions of acres of the ocean for sale to oil companies. More than a million people have written letters or signed petitions to ask the president to revoke the permits. Donahey, who was holding the 1.1 million comments to be delivered to the Council on Environmental Equality, said they would be delivered by the end of the day.
Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes responded to the issue in a statement on Monday. "We welcome the robust political dialogue that we have on this subject and all the input from all of the interested groups," he said according to reporting from Politico. The groups said they have yet to receive a direct response from the president.
Ben Copp, a 25-year-old intern with the Sierra Club's Lands Protection Program who's spent summers in Alaska working as a fishing guide, told HuffPost that drilling is an issue particularly close to his heart.
Copp, who was dressed as a huge furry Arctic Tern, said of why he'd come out in costume, "The only person who has the power to stop them from drilling in the Arctic this summer is President Obama." Asked what he thought of the president's record on the issue he added, "It could be better, and it will be better next term."
The Sierra Club has also organized thousands of activists to call in to the White House this week to demand that the administration protect America's Arctic.
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