Protecting Alaskan Wilderness At What Cost?

by Abigail Wang

As President Obama finishes his last term, he’s rolling full steam ahead with his environmental and energy policies. In a move that left environmentalists, oil companies, and politicians upset, the president announced the Interior Department’s plans to prevent future oil and gas production in major parts of Alaska, but support development along the East Coast. The Obama administration wants to designate 12.28 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), including the coastal plains in Alaska, as “Wilderness”. Wilderness is the highest level of protection available for public lands; it prohibits mining, drilling, roads, vehicles, and the establishment of permanent structures in select areas. Over seven million acres are currently managed as wilderness because of the National Interests Lands Conservation Act of 1980, but more than 60% of the ANWR is not listed as such. Continue reading