U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced legislation Wednesday that would designate 1.56 million acres of land in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness.
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure that must be preserved for future generations to experience and enjoy,” Cantwell said in a statement. “I’m proud to join Senator Kirk on this bipartisan bill to protect one of the last pristine public lands in America. We need to advance forward-looking solutions for America’s energy future, while preserving this treasured public land and the unique ecosystem that depends on it.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski called the bill “anti-Alaska legislation” and said it would ban oil and natural gas development in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR.
“I cannot understand how, given Alaska’s decades of responsible energy development, this is still viewed as a good idea or a necessary action,” Murkowski said. “At a time when our nation clearly needs more jobs, more revenues, and more domestic energy, this bill defiantly ignores all three.”
Alaska State Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, issued a statement Thursday saying that it was unfortunate that “some members of Congress are more interested in waging a policy fight based on outdated beliefs that fly in the face of reality.”
“It’s disappointing, though not surprising, that senators from states claiming to be good faith neighbors with Alaska are once again attempting to dictate its economic future,” Millett said in the statement. “Alaska has a track record of responsible oil and gas development that spans decades.”