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Begich Says More Wilderness in ANWR Not Needed

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A new draft management plan for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a waste of time and money, says U.S. Senator Mark Begich.

"I have said all along spending limited federal dollars on a review of new wilderness designation in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a waste of time and money," Begich said. "I am glad the Interior Department did not recommend new wilderness area in their draft plan, and urge Alaskans to speak out over the coming months to ensure the coastal plain of ANWR stays on the table for oil and gas development."

At issue is a Comprehensive Conservation Plan issued in draft today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for management of ANWR. The plan offers six alternatives for long-range management, including the possibility of extending additional wilderness.

Begich noted the vast majority of ANWR is already off limits to development, but Congress specifically set aside 1.5 million acres along the coastal plain for oil and gas exploration. Additionally, only Congress can designate new wilderness areas in ANWR.

"The rich energy resources beneath the Arctic Refuge should be developed to help ensure America's energy and economic security," Begich said. "Development in ANWR could create thousands of much-needed jobs in Alaska and across the country. I'll fight every step of the way any effort by federal bureaucrats to close off this enormous source of oil and gas by slapping it with more wilderness designation."

Most current federal estimates show up to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil and nearly 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath ANWR's coastal plain.

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