Obama To Seek Protection Of Over 12 Million Acres Of Alaskan Wilderness

The ANWR. Credit Here.

Natives call the region that we call the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” This land is home to the most diverse array of wildlife in the entire Arctic, and this includes caribou, polar bears, grey wolves, and more.

This region is fragile, especially in a world where the climate is dangerously changing. In tandem with reducing our pollution output to slow the rate of climate change, President Obama is ready to take action to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Coastal Plains. Credit Here.

Officials announced Sunday that the Obama Administration will ask Congress to protect over 12 million acres of Alaskan lands from a range of human activity, including road construction and drilling.

President Obama, in a video sent out by the White House, said that he wants to “make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations.”

Alaskan lawmakers, along with some Republicans in Congress, were quick to criticize this request. Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski slammed it as federal outreach, saying that “It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory.”

The center of this dispute is the 1.5 million acres of oil-rich coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This has long been a contention point between the oil and gas industry and conservationists.

Conservationists are praising the request that the 12 million acres be deemed ‘wilderness’. Rhea Suh, president of the National Resources Defense Council, said that it is “the best news for the refuge since President Eisenhower established it in 1960 as the Arctic National Wildlife Range.”

Polar Bear Pawprint at ANWR. Credit Here.

The President said that while America is the biggest producer of oil and gas and that we are importing less foreign oil now than anytime in the last 30 years, some regions must stay off-limits. Accidents and spills still occur, and we cannot risk a Valdez-type (or worse) spill to damage the fragile and pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said that “Designating vast areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife.” Jewell also said that “like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.”

So, this, and really the whole struggle about climate change, comes down to this:

Will we protect the Earth that we all share with moderate solutions that benefit both the private and public sectors, or will we let overabundances of money cloud our judgement?

It’s up to us.