Murkowski declares ANWR wilderness bill ‘dead on arrival’

A pair of Democratic U.S. senators have introduced a bill to designate parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a permanent wilderness area.

The bill prompted immediate outrage from Alaska Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans, who want parts of the refuge opened up to oil and gas drilling. In a statement, Murkowski declared the bill “dead on arrival.”

A view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: USFWS
A view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: USFWS

The legislation, from Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Michael Bennett of Colorado, would protect the refuge’s coastal plain, along the Arctic Ocean. It has the support of 33 Democrats, along with Independent Bernie Sanders.

But that is nowhere near enough to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Similar bills to turn the coastal plain into wilderness have been introduced in every Congress for decades. And earlier this year, the Obama Administration formally recommended wilderness designation for an even larger swath of the refuge. But that proposal requires congressional action to take effect.

Rachel Waldholz covers energy and the environment for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media, KTOO in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Before coming to Anchorage, she spent two years reporting for Raven Radio in Sitka. Rachel studied documentary production at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and her short film, A Confused War won several awards. Her work has appeared on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace, among other outlets.
rwaldholz (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8432 | About Rachel

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