Alaska lawmakers have described President Barack Obama’s new protections for the Arctic as an act of war against the state. Now the governor wants to shoot some volleys of his own.
The decision to block drilling in a good chunk of the Arctic angered Gov. Bill Walker so much that he did not even rule out secession when asked about it at a press conference.
“We’ll consider all options,” said Walker. “I don’t think that’s one we’ll give a lot of credence to. But I won’t say that we won’t. I don’t know that that gets us what we want. Interesting thought, though.”
Walker, an independent, does intend to send a $2 billion invoice to the White House, charging for the loss of revenue potential to the state.
“They owe us,” Walker said. “They owe us as far as I’m concerned.”
Walker acknowledged that the federal government is unlikely to pay the bill, but wants to make a statement about Alaska’s resource economy.
The governor is also considering more traditional responses, like inviting the president and secretary of the Interior for a tour of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And if that does not work, he says a lawsuit is possible.
Obama announced the decision to designate 12 million acres of ANWR as wilderness on Sunday, and offered a plan to ban drilling in parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas on Tuesday. While Shell holds offshore leases in the Arctic, no oil production is currently underway in the affected areas. The proposals have no immediate effect, but critics worry the plan could lock up billions of barrels of oil for the foreseeable future.