President Obama stayed five steps ahead of the Republican controlled Congress by announcing his administration’s plan to protect more of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge from drilling.
The president said:
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. That’s why that my Department of Interior has put forth a comprehensive plan to make sure that we’re protecting the refuge and that we’re designating new areas, including coastal plains for preservation. And I’m going to be calling on Congress to make sure that they take it one step further. Designating it as a wilderness, so that we can make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations.
The Department of Interior is proposing a plan that would reccomend that, “12.28 million acres – including the Coastal Plain – for designation as wilderness. The Service also recommends four rivers – the Atigun, Hulahula, Kongakut, and Marsh Fork Canning – for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Currently, over 7 million acres of the refuge are managed as wilderness, consistent with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. However, more than 60 percent of the refuge – including the Coastal Plain – does not carry that designation. Designation as wilderness would protect and preserve the refuge, ensuring the land and water would remain unimpaired for use and enjoyment by future generations. Only Congress has the authority to designate Wilderness areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers.”
The Republican chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska vowed to fight the new plan, “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. The promises made to us at statehood, and since then, mean absolutely nothing to them. I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.”
As the Koch Republican run Congress is trying to pass Keystone XL, President Obama took another pro-environment step against the GOP agenda. Republicans have been trying to open up ANWR to more drilling since 1977. Before the latest flare-up of the issue, former President George W. Bush tried to get Congress to reverse the ban on offshore drilling.
While the president continues trying to move the country forward towards a sensible and self-sustaining energy policy, Republicans continue to do Big Oil’s bidding. The Alaska economy is dependent on drilling, so their opposition to the president’s conservation plan is understandable, but Obama was sending a message to the American people. The president is laying out an agenda for the Democratic Party that paints a clear contrast with what the Republicans are offering.
While Republicans are bogged down on Keystone XL, President Obama has already moved five steps ahead.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association