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Sen. Murkowski Blasts Federal Wilderness Proposals in ANWR

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today warned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) against trampling the "no more" promise made to Alaska under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Murkowski's comments come in response to the USFWS's announcement that the agency plans to conduct three wilderness reviews this winter in an attempt to lock up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under permanent wilderness designations.

"This is a blatant political move by the administration and clearly violates the promise of no more administrative wilderness designations in Alaska," Murkowski said.

Murkowski said the agency lacks the authority to conduct wilderness reviews in Alaska without the express consent of Congress. (See ANILCA section 1326(b).)

"Congress has given no such approval," Murkowski said. "This is a waste of time and taxpayer money - and it's a proposed waste of the oil and natural gas resources that belong to all Americans."

As the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murkowski pledged to de-authorize and defund any attempt to further restrict responsible development of Alaska's natural resources.

"Congress designated the coastal plain of ANWR for oil and gas exploration more than three decades ago, but we continue to have to be vigilant against bureaucratic attempts to lock up Alaska's resources," Murkowski said.

"This is another example of the administration's inability to face reality when it comes to our nation's energy needs. The result of such shortsightedness is greater reliance on foreign sources of energy and fewer American jobs," Murkowski said.   

Murkowski sent a formal letter of protest to USFWS in May, calling for the agency to halt wilderness reviews that violate provisions in ANILCA.

Alaska has more federally protected land than any other state. Alaska contains 58 million acres of federal land designated as "wilderness," an area larger New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

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