Bush Administration Pushes to Open More Alaska Land to Drilling

The Bush administration hasn’t been able to finagle its way into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s pressing ahead with plans to drill for oil and gas on other remote, environmentally sensitive public lands in Alaska. The Bureau of Land Management this week proposed opening up 387,000 acres of protected land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to drillers, a plan the agency says would promote “environmentally responsible energy development.” Enviros scoff at that claim, arguing that the area in question should be protected because it provides critical habitat for caribou, migratory geese, and other wildlife, as well as a subsistence hunting ground for Natives. “It’s an incredible rollback that the agency is not acknowledging to the public,” said Eleanor Huffines of the Wilderness Society. Public comments on the proposal will be accepted until August 2; Interior Secretary Gale Norton will make a final decision on the matter later this year.