President Obama plans to ask Congress to close the 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to potential oil and natural gas drilling.
“Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place. Pristine, undisturbed, it supports caribou and polar bears, all matter of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it’s supported many Alaska native communities. But it’s very fragile,” President Obama said.
The President went on to say that his proposal would "make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations.”
“For more than three decades, some voices have clamored to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain — a move that could irreparably damage this ecological treasure and harm the Alaska Native communities who still depend on the caribou for subsistence.
“The United States today is the number-one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, and we import less oil than at any time in almost 30 years.
“The Obama administration believes that oil and natural gas resources can be developed safely. Unfortunately, accidents and spills can still happen, and the environmental impacts can sometimes be felt for many years," White House advisers John Podesta and Mike Boots wrote in a blog post on Sunday.
Republicans are calling the President's proposal a “war on Alaska’s future.”
“What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive.
“It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory,” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said.
“This outrageous action confirms what most Alaskans have feared — that the Obama administration’s war against Alaska families and the middle class would only intensify under the final two years of President Obama’s tenure,” U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said.
“Having just given to Alaskans the State of the State and State of the Budget addresses, it’s clear that our fiscal challenges in both the short and long term would benefit significantly from increased oil production.
“This action by the federal government is a major setback toward reaching that goal,” Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker (I) said.