Alaska Delegation Comments on ANWR Comprehensive Plan

Delegation United in Opposition to Additional Wilderness and Pushes for Immediate Additional Oil and Gas Exploration

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich along with Representative Don Young today submitted a joint letter commenting on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USF&WS) proposed Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The USF&WS held a public meeting for the plan in Washington, D.C. as one of seven scoping meetings.

The letter acknowledges the 22-year-old plan for ANWR needs to be updated, but voices strong objection to any further wilderness reviews for ANWR considering such designations can only be made by Congress.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service's limited financial resources - and taxpayer dollars- should not be wasted on such an unproductive exercise," the letter states. "Since the plan revision clearly will not decide this issue, we strongly urge you to take the wilderness review off the table as part of the CCP revision. We believe this will save the Service considerable time and money and allow Refuge personnel to focus on other critical issues such as managing increased visitor use and changing habitat conditions."

The delegation also urges the USF&WS to consider oil and gas exploration with modern technology and examine the potential effects of directional drilling as part of the plan.

"Additionally, as much as the advance of time may have changed habitat and wildlife management concerns, new technology can now facilitate both a better understanding of the oil and gas reserves within the 1002 area as well as enable more environmentally responsible development."

"Directional drilling techniques would allow extraction of oil and gas from some of the 1002 area with no surface disturbance. We request you meaningfully consider both of these technological advances and their application in future planning for the 1002 area of ANWR."

The USF&WS has already held meetings in Fort Yukon, Venetie, and Arctic Village. Meetings are scheduled in Anchorage on May 11, Fairbanks on May 13, and Kaktovik on May 20. The CCP plan is expected to take 18 months to complete.

The delegation's letter is attached to this release.

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