Defenders of Wildlife will be flying kites outside the Capitol Tuesday to represent the migratory birds that rely on the Arctice National Wildlife Refuge. Meanwhile, inside the Capitol, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold hearings on the future of the refuge.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, often called ANWAR, covers more than 19 million acres in Alaska's North Slope. It has been at the center of an ongoing debate about drilling and oil reserves for more than 10 years.
Oil companies say it has a vast supply of oil and natural gas beneath it that will help supply the country's needs for years to come. They are lobbying for the rights to drill, claiming it can be done without disturbing this pristine refuge.
Environmentalists point out that it is one of the countries largest eco-systems, providing birthing grounds for caribou and habitat for a host of migratory birds. There are also no roads into the refuge. Establishing oil and gas exploration there would be greatly disruptive and create the potential for widespread environmental harm. They point to the horror unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico as proof that oil drilling is not the clean and efficient enterprise that the companies claim it to be.
Want to learn more? Head to the kite demonstration: