Bush Administration Opens Alaskan Land to Drilling

Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge isn’t on the oil-and-gas chopping block under the terms of the current behemoth energy bill, but the rest of the state isn’t quite as lucky: The Bush administration will announce today that it plans to open 8.8 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope to oil and gas development. The Interior Department says drilling in the area represents a sound compromise between energy needs and environmental protection, but environmentalists counter that the region includes ecologically sensitive areas that are important to migratory birds, whales, and other wildlife, and should not be disturbed. The Bureau of Land Management plans to hold a lease sale for drilling rights next June.