Refuge review criticized

September 28, 2010 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Alaska's U.S. senators say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no business conducting reviews of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to see if more areas should be designated as wilderness.

The service announced Monday it will review three areas of the refuge, including the coastal plain, believed to contain an estimated 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, reacted with an angry press statement, warning the agency not to trample on a promise of "no more wilderness" made to Alaska in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

"This is a blatant political move by the administration and clearly violates the promise of no more administrative wilderness designations in Alaska," Murkowski said.

A wilderness designation would preclude petroleum drilling.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said Monday he has long been opposed to more time or taxpayer money being spent on further wilderness reviews.

"This is a colossal waste of limited resources, and we should use those resources to develop the enormous oil and gas reserves believed to be beneath the coastal plain," he said.

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