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Sen. Murkowski Opposes Federal Study of ANWR as Wilderness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today reiterated her strong objection to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to consider wilderness designation for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Sen. Murkowski sent a representative to testify at today’s public hearing in Anchorage to make clear her opposition to the wilderness proposal for the coastal plain, commonly known as the “1002 area.” She also submitted a formal letter of opposition, along with the other members of Alaska’s congressional delegation, to the agency on May 4.

“A wilderness designation in the 1002 area would forever place off limits North America’s most promising onshore oil prospect,” Murkowski said. “It would also severely restrict access for other uses, including hunting.”

Murkowski also expressed concern about the legality of more wilderness designations in Alaska. Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), federal agencies are not allowed to study lands for possible set-asides unless Congress specifically authorizes the study. This is known as the “No More” clause in ANILCA.

“Once the Fish and Wildlife Service starts the process to consider designating an area as wilderness, it’s automatically managed as wilderness, with all the restrictions that implies,” Murkowski said. “This is yet another example of the assault Alaska is under from Washington.”

Alaska has more federally protected land than any other state. Alaska contains 58 million acres of federal land designated as “wilderness,” an area larger than the combined size of the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Alaska accounts for 53 percent of America’s entire federal “wilderness” areas.

The coastal plain is estimated to contain between 10 billion and 16 billion barrels of oil.

Attached is a copy of the remarks given by Sen. Murkowski’s representative at the public meeting.

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