President Obama infuriated Alaska’s political leaders when he announced in January he would ask Congress to protect more land within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, forever off-limits to oil drilling. Some, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, predict Obama will act on his own to bar development, by using the Antiquities Act to declare ANWR a national monument. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said today that’s not in the works.
“There’s no discussions in the Administration right now about monument status for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” she said. She then repeated it in response to a reporter’s question: “There are no plans the Administration has for using the national monument designation or the Antiquities Act for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
Jewell, though, does not agree that the “no more” clause of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act would prohibit the president from declaring new national monuments in Alaska.
“I’m not an expert on the legal status but I believe we could use the Antiquities Act,” Jewell said. “But there are no plans to do so in Alaska at this time.”