Latest Murkowski Drill Bill Won’t Protect Arctic Refuge

Murkowski's Arctic Refuge drilling bill bring adverse impacts to polar bears and other Arctic wildlife

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has introduced another Arctic Refuge directional drill bill that she claims “should silence any potential controversy over ANWR development.”  Here’s how the controversy would be silenced:

  • Allow intrusive seismic testing and surface exploration activities with no mandatory seasonal restrictions to protect wildlife or wilderness in the coastal plain, the “biological heart” of the Arctic Refuge;
  • Waive fundamental legal requirements to consider new studies and information and instead deem a 1987 environmental analysis adequate to support drilling the Refuge today.  Mandate a lease sale of at least 200,000 acres within 18 months and another within two years;
  •  Authorize the Bureau of Land Management to hold further lease sales in regardless of the opinion of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with managing the Arctic Refuge;
  • Ensure a rubberstamp for BLM decisions by instructing courts that they “shall be presumed to be correct unless proven otherwise by clear and convincing evidence.”

So let’s see: disruptive activities in the Arctic Refuge like seismic testing and exploratory drilling; mandatory lease sales, with mandatory dates and sizes, to be run by the BLM regardless of what the Refuge managing agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, thinks? 

And regardless of what the socio-economic, environmental and other studies say?  Oh wait, there won’t be any studies.  A 1987 study will be deemed all we ever needed to know, despite the fact that it’s 24 years old and incapable of assessing the wildlife, habitat, climate change and other relevant issues of today.  And if all this might lead to some underinformed decisions?  Not to worry, the bill tells the courts to presume everything is OK.  

Silence the controversy?  I don’t think so.  Reminds me of her attempt to silence the climate change controversy by gutting the EPA’s ability to do anything about carbon pollution . . . but that’s another story.