Environmentalists did constant battle with Frank Murkowski when he was a U.S. senator — and, if last night’s “State of the State” address was any indication, they will have to redouble their efforts now that he is the new Republican governor of Alaska. During the speech, Murkowski said he would push for more road development, expand the Alaskan salmon market, oppose lawsuits harmful to the timber industry, press for a new natural gas pipeline, and seek to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. He also announced plans to make the state Department of Natural Resources the lead agency for all permitting processes, a move that thrilled developers but angered enviros. Doing so would strip permitting power from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which has often been the sole agency to oppose environmentally harmful projects.
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