Sen. Murkowski: Alaska Will Not be Treated as a Territory

Speaks about President Obama’s Latest Restrictions, Shares Alaskans’ Reactions

January 28, 2015

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today continued to push back against the “shortsighted, infuriating, and ongoing” actions being taken by the Obama administration to shut down development of Alaska’s vast oil and natural gas resources.


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“When you look at it all together – between the recommended wilderness designations for ANWR and the Arctic offshore withdrawals – Alaska has lost more than 22 million acres of land and water where energy could be produced – just this week alone,” said Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Murkowski said that President Obama – who has never been to Alaska except to stop to refuel Air Force One on his way abroad – simply doesn’t grasp the impact these decisions will have on Alaska’s economic future.

“He’s happy to refuel Air Force One in Alaska, but he doesn’t seem to want that fuel to be produced in Alaska,” Murkowski said.

“My reaction has been quite strong. The reason is pretty obvious to anyone who takes a moment to think about it,” Murkowski continued. “I am amazed that our president can look at Alaska, and think this is what we need most right now. Alaska is not a territory and we will not be treated as one.”

Senator Murkowski also shared reactions to the president’s decisions that have come in from throughout Alaska, and which have been equally harsh:

“President Barack Obama and his lieutenants at the Interior Department will permanently harm our people and all Alaskans with his colonial attitude and decision-making,” Alaska State Representative Ben Nageak wrote. “We must establish and allow for exploration and development now, when it can help us secure our future and contribute the resource to our state and nation.”

“[Sunday’s] announcement by the Department of the Interior represents the worst of Washington politics. These types of paternalistic, executive fiats seem to be more appropriate for Andrew Jackson’s administration than Barack Obama’s,” North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower said.  “We would like to invite President Obama and Secretary Jewell to travel to ANWR and meet with the people that actually live there before proposing these types of sweeping land designations. They might learn that the Inupiat people, who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia, have no interest in living like relics in a giant, open-air museum. Rather, they hope to have the same rights and privileges enjoyed by people across the rest of the country.”

“We are staunchly opposed to this relentless and coordinated effort to designate the Coastal Plain of ANWR as Wilderness. This administration has deliberately ignored the input provided by the most affected people within ANWR,” read a statement from the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. “Simply put, this surprise announcement shows a blatant disregard for the people of the North Slope and we will join the State of Alaska, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, and the North Slope Borough in fighting it.”

“Promises were made at statehood to give us our land and resources to develop for the maximum benefit of Alaskans. This decision effectively negates that promise and will permanently lock up our economic future. We will not stand by and allow the Obama regime to kill opportunity and resource development in Alaska,” said Alaska Senate President Kevin Meyer.

“The president just doesn’t get it, or he does get it and doesn’t care about the will and voice of Alaskans. That’s beyond offensive,” Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault said. “President Obama’s blatant disregard for the Alaska Natives on the North Slope should not be allowed to continue. I will stand alongside any of my colleagues as we send this message to the nation’s capital.”

“Designating that vast amount of acreage as wilderness will effectively kill any hope for development, and hurt Alaska’s – and America’s – economy in the long run,” Alaska House Majority Leader Charisse Millett said. “We were promised at statehood the opportunity to build our own future. This proposal, if pushed through, would directly oppose that, stifling the will of Alaskans and our ability to self-govern.”