Obama Moves to Protect 12 Million Acres of Alaskan Wildlife

26 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama Administration Moves to Block Drilling in Parts of Alaska.

The Obama Administration will ask Congress to protect millions of acres of land in Alaska from a range of human activity including drilling and road construction, officials said Sunday.

US President Barack Obama has called on Congress to designate more than 12m acres of Alaska’s arctic wilds for environmental protection, opening another battle line with Republicans and the oil industry.A polar bear walks in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.The Obama administration is proposing new protections in the region that would ban mining and drilling. The decision by the president, which would block oil and gas production, was immediately criticized by the state’s Republican lawmakers who claim it will damage the state’s economy.

The designation would seal off the area in Alaska’s northeast corner from oil exploration and give it the highest degree of federal protection available to public lands. The nearly 20 million acre refuge has long been a piece of contentious land in the struggle between conservationists and advocates of greater energy exploration in the United States. The move, which would require the approval of a Republican-led Congress, would more than double the current 7m acres of the refuge now given the highest environmental designation possible for US public lands.

In a White House video released Sunday, Obama says he is seeking the designation “so we can make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations.” Lisa Murkowski condemned the move immediately as an act of federal overreach. “It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory,” she said in a statement. “The promises made to us at statehood, and since then, mean absolutely nothing to them.” In a video featuring polar bears and other wildlife released as part of the announcement Mr Obama described the Alaskan refuge as an “incredible place”.

Bill Walker, reacted angrily at the administration’s moves, and Obama’s efforts to win wilderness designation will likely face stiff resistance in the Republican-controlled Congress. “I have tried to work with this administration — even though they’ve made it extremely difficult every step of the way — but those days are officially over,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s senior senator and the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We are left with no choice but to hit back as hard as we can.” The Interior Department issued a comprehensive plan Sunday that for the first time recommended the additional protections. But it’s very fragile.” Obama said the move is part of a comprehensive Interior Department plan to protect the refuge and designate new areas for preservation and that he will call on Congress “to make sure they take it one step further” by designating the area as wilderness.

We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.” While designating lands as wilderness requires congressional approval—something this administration is unlikely to get with both chambers controlled by Republicans—Sunday’s proposed designation puts the area into a state of de facto designation as wilderness, according to an Interior Department spokeswoman. The Post’s Juliet Elperin reports that the Department of Interior will make certain parts of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling, in a plan set to be issued this week.

It is just one more example of President Obama thumbing his nose at the citizens of a sovereign state — and will put Alaska and America’s energy security in serious jeopardy.” U.S.

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