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Murkowski Says New ANWR Wilderness Bill Dead Before Introduced


April 05, 2017
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) Washington, D.C. - Wednesday, Congress introduced twin bills in the House and Senate to designate the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness. The Arctic Refuge provides summer nesting grounds for millions of migratory birds that fly north through all fifty states in order to reach this lush ecosystem. The coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is the biological heart of the refuge and has long had the threat of oil and gas development hanging over it.

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In response, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “This bill was dead before it got introduced.”

Murkowski (R-Alaska) issued the statement Wednesday after a group of Senators reintroduced legislation that she says will override the preferences of the vast majority of Alaskans, prevent the creation of thousands of high-paying jobs, weaken the nation’s long-term energy security, and deprive Alaska of its best opportunity to pull itself out of recession.

On April 4, a total of 40 senators sponsored a bill that would designate the refuge’s fragile coastal plain as a wilderness area. Such a designation would permanently protect refuge from the oil drilling proposals introduced year after year in Congress. 

The effort was led by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) In all, the bill was introduced with the sponsorship of 40 senators. That’s a record level of Senate support for legislation to protect the Arctic Refuge.

David Yarnold, Audubon’s president and CEO, said, “Today, in the face of a new campaign to open the wildlife refuge to drilling, a record number of Senators and a bipartisan group of Representatives introduced legislation to permanently protect this unique and rare landscape once and for all. Americans strongly support protecting this place and our natural heritage for our kids and grandkids, so the only question for the rest of Congress is, ‘Are you listening?’”

“Alaska’s coastal plain is one of North America’s most prolific bird nurseries. If the Arctic Refuge is ever developed, America loses one of its last untouched, wild places and millions of baby birds could lose their homes,” said Yarnold.

Yarnold said, “The breeding and nesting grounds for birds that later fly to all 50 states and all seven continents make this a truly special place where no drill rig or pipeline should ever be.

According to Yarnold, given its biological and aesthetic value, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has enjoyed bipartisan support from Congress for decades. Yet the coastal plain remains without permanent federal protection as wilderness, even though it is has the highest concentration of biological diversity in the Refuge. While currently managed as wilderness, formal designation requires an act of Congress.

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an exceptional example of a complete, intact, Arctic ecosystem on a vast scale, and the coastal plain is essential to the integrity of this wild and productive place,” said Nils Warnock, executive director of Audubon Alaska, the state office of the National Audubon Society.

“In addition to providing critical breeding habitat for nearly 200 species of migratory birds, the coastal plain supports the 197,000-animal Porcupine Caribou Herd, and a full complement of large predators, such as wolves, grizzly bears, and polar bears. It’s time for Congress to protect this life-sustaining landscape once and for all.”

According to The Wilderness Society, the coastal plain is the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge. It provides denning habitat for endangered polar bears, and is the calving ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. It is also the home of wolves, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and migratory birds that travel to six continents and all 50 states.

Quoting a Wilderness Society news release, "The Arctic Refuge has value far beyond the oil beneath it. We have a moral obligation to protect the it for our children and grandchildren."

In addition to representing Alaska, Senator Murkowski is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 



Reporting and Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski

The Wilderness Society


Audubon Alaska




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