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Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm •  Published: January 27, 2015
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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Jan. 26, 2015

Juneau Empire: Obama 'declares war' on Alaska

On Sunday, President Obama declared war on Alaska.

So say Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan.

In a statement released on the first day of the week, the president announced that he plans to ask Congress to declare 12.2 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, including the refuge's coastal plain.

ANWR's coastal plain is thought to contain the largest deposit of conventional oil remaining on land in the United States. Anyone who lives in Southeast Alaska should know what the wilderness designation would mean. Many locations in the Tongass National Forest already are designated wilderness, the most restrictive land-use label the federal government has.

Wilderness means what it says. It means no driving. It means no building. It means no mining. It definitely means no drilling.

Alaskans should see the president's move as nothing else than an attempt to protect ANWR from oil and gas drilling.

"What's coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive," Murkowski declared in a prepared statement.

Along with the wilderness designation, more Arctic actions are expected. The Washington Post reports that the Department of the Interior will this week set certain parts of the Arctic Ocean off-limits to drilling. The Department of the Interior also could impose "additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska," reported the Post's Juliet Elperin.

When it came to protections for Bristol Bay, this newspaper applauded the president's action.

When it comes to ANWR and restrictions on drilling in the Arctic, we believe the president's actions are extreme, unenforceable and come close to the declaration of war that Murkowski and Sullivan have proclaimed.

Oil is the lifeblood of Alaska. Whether that is a good thing or not can be debated, but one fact is certain: Alaska depends on oil.

To deprive an animal or human of blood is to deprive it of life. No wonder, then, that so many Alaskans are sure to see this decision as a life-or-death "war."

Within hours of the president's announcement, Murkowski, Sullivan, Rep. Don Young and Gov. Bill Walker had issued statements damning the president's move. We expect that when the Alaska Legislature reconvenes this morning, it will soon issue a joint resolution doing the same. In 2003, when the Alaska Legislature approved a joint resolution asking for ANWR to be opened for drilling, Rep. Kim Elton of Juneau was the sole vote against it, and he later went on to serve in Obama's Interior Department.

At that time, this newspaper declared that supporting the ANWR resolution and opening the coastal plain to drilling "is consistent with the best interests of the whole state."

We continue to believe this. Alaska needs oil. While we may deplore the fact that we need it, we cannot deny our addiction. Oil is the fuel that pays for our health care, our schools, our police, our government.

Gov. Walker, in response to the president's declaration, said the state may be forced to accelerate the pace of leases and drilling on state land, and that makes us nervous. Haste means waste, less time for checks and environmental protections. A move designed to protect the environment could have severe consequences beyond the financial ones.

In 2002, the McDowell Group released a report saying that at $24 per barrel, ANWR oil would be worth $1.3 billion per year to the state of Alaska at peak production. Even in a historic oil price slump and after changes to the oil tax code, the revenue from ANWR crude would be double that 13-year-old estimate.

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