Continuing Resolution Keeps Department of Interior from Designating New Unauthorized Wilderness Areas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski today applauded the inclusion of language in the continuing budget resolution that would block implementation of a controversial order by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to designate new “wild lands” without required congressional approval.

“Congress has sole authority to create new wilderness areas. Any attempt to try an end run around Congress will get a predictable response,” said Murkowski – who serves as the ranking Republican on the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. “Moving forward, I would encourage the Interior Department to work not around, but with Congress. That way, we’ll ensure public lands are managed to maximize opportunities for all Americans to benefit from and enjoy.”

The continuing budget resolution that would fund the government until October would prohibit funds from being spent to implement, administer, or enforce Secretary Salazar’s order to designate new federal areas as “wild lands,” thereby managing them as wilderness and circumventing existing law requiring Congress to approve all wilderness listings.

“Alaska already has more wilderness than the rest of the nation combined,” said Murkowski. “Fencing off additional land – around possible future sites for oil and gas development, for example – could threaten the state’s economy, and our nation’s energy future.”

 The House is expected to vote on the continuing budget resolution on Wednesday. The Senate could take it up as early as Thursday. The current funding resolution expires at midnight Thursday.