No drillingThe Obama administration is seizing the opportunity brought by the oil crash to try to protect more of Alaska's from the "drill, baby, drill" crowd. On Sunday, a plan was proposed to designate 12.3 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (the largest wildlife refuge in the United States) for "wilderness", which would halt oil development there. This new protected area would include 1.52 million acres of the refuge’s coastal plain, 5.85 million acres of the Brooks mountain range, and 4.92 million acres of the Porcupine Plateau.
And apparently this is only the beginning too: "individuals briefed on the plan" told the Washington Post that the U.S. administration plans to make more announcements in the coming weeks, including some that would "put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska."
As the name of the wilderness refuge implies, the area is important to many species: Polar bears, which are now protected under the Endangered Species Act, go to the area during winter and give birth to their cubs, nursing them until the spring. It is also calving ground for the Porcupine caribou herd, and is home to species like grizzly bears, wolves, etc.