President Barack Obama will call on the US congress to expand protection of Alaska’s Arctic refuge to 12million acres.
The move will prohibit oil and gas drilling in a region with more than one million acres of oil heavy coast.
The proposal was unveiled by the Interior Department at the weekend.
In a video he said: “Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place — pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of
birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska Native communities. But it’s very fragile.”
According to reports the announcement is part of a series of decisions which could affect the state’s energy production.
The new areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) proposed for wilderness designation will consist of 1.52 million acres of the refuge’s coastal plain, 5.85 million acres of the
Brooks mountain range and 4.92 million acres of the Porcupine Plateau.
Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operation for American Petroleum Institute, said: “It sends the wrong signal to Alaskans, the industry and the world.
“These are strategic assets, and the US should be leading the way in the development of these resources,” Milito said, adding the industry has proved it can develop them “in a safe and environmentally responsible way.”
The US Geological Survey estimates the coastal plain holds 10.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
Alaska Governor Bill Walker said he would consider “accelerating the options available” to increase oil exploration and production on state-owned lands in response to the move by the administration.
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