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.
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. The recent lease sale in the Arctic Refuge was an egregious step in the efforts to destroy the Arctic Refuge by a lame duck administration for its oil industry allies. This step toward selling leases for oil drilling truly demonstrates the Trump administration's complete disregard for the human rights, addressing the crisis of climate change, or protecting wildlife like caribou and polar bear. Thankfully, it is time for a change! Thank you, President Biden for honoring your pledge and taking Day One action to fully protect this sacred place.
2. Oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is contrary to acting on climate change, protecting human rights or preserving wildlife, and with all major U.S. banks and major oil companies unwilling to invest in leasing there, it’s clear there is no interest in such remote and controversial projects. What a breath of fresh air it is to have a new President. I really appreciate that President Biden has made the Arctic Refuge a priority and taken Day One action to protect this national treasure.
3. 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. President Biden understands this and signed an Executive Order on Day One to protect this national treasure. This is incredible news, after the outgoing Trump administration held a lease sale in their final weeks and awarded leases in their final hours to sell off our treasured public lands.
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!