First Things First Testimony on ANWR Wilderness Designation

September 21, 2011

Sharon Seim
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
101 12th Ave Room #236
Fairbanks, AK 99701-6237

RE: Opposition to Any Wildlife Designations Proposed in the Draft ANWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Dear Ms. Seim,

The Board of Directors of the First Things First Alaska Foundation adamantly opposes changing all or any part of the status of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to a wilderness designation or wild and scenic river designation.

Such designations would violate the “no more” clauses of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and would be contrary to the intent of Congress in passing this law. ANILCA was accepted in good faith by the people of Alaska with the explicit understanding that no further lands would be removed for potential development. ANILCA mandates that the Department of the Interior periodically revisit the issue of oil and gas activity within the coastal plain of ANWR, and in fact has determined that such activities could occur with minimal impact on wildlife. The US Fish and Wildlife Services’ proposed comprehensive conservation plan is in clear violation of that charge in that it would eliminate any opportunity for future development and does not allow for an oil and gas development alternative.

The health of Alaska’s economy is almost solely dependent on the ability, or potential future ability, to develop its natural resources. Seventy-eight percent of Alaskans, including every Alaskan Governor, every legislature, and every elected congressional representative and senator from Alaska, support oil exploration in the ANWR coastal plain 1002 area. ANWR is estimated to hold sufficient oil and gas reserves to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which is operating at only one-third of its capacity and continually declining. Refilling TAPS is vital to the State of Alaska’s capability to continue providing basic government services and creating new infrastructure. Alaska simply has no other viable tax base.

Sincerely,

Mindy Rowland
Executive Director