Obama’s ANWR Wilderness Protection Plea Enrages Alaska Delegation

President Obama today sent letters to Congressional leaders formally requesting wilderness protection for parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including the coastal plain.

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The letters follow through on a plan the White House announced in late January, enraging Alaska’s governor and congressional delegation, who want the area opened to oil exploration.

Obama’s action today changes nothing on the ground. Only Congress can declare an area “wilderness,” resulting in the highest level of resource protection.

Despite decades of pressure from environmentalists, Congress has refused to confer wilderness status on the coastal plain of the refuge, and the president’s request is unlikely to change that.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says that unless Congress acts, it will continue the current management regime for the coastal plain, known as “minimal management.”

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska issues in Washington as the network's D.C. correspondent. She was born in Anchorage and is a West High grad. She has degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. She previously worked at the Homer News, the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers. She also freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013. She's @lruskin on Twitter. She welcomes your news tips at lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

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