President Barack Obama on Friday made more than 40,000 square miles of Alaska’s coast off limits to oil and gas drilling and committed $30 million to projects in rural Alaska and northern Canada ahead of his final days in the White House.
"The coastal tribes along the northern Bering Sea and the Bering Strait have requested that the Federal Government take action to protect the health of the marine ecosystems of the Northern Bering Sea and Bering Strait while maintaining opportunities for sustainable fishing and sustainable economic development," said a press release on the White House website.
Obama responded by signing an executive order creating the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area, a 112,300 square-mile area where the Bering Task Force will help coordinate federal activity and consider additional mechanisms to reduce impacts to subsistence and cultural activities within the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.
But the move was not appreciated by some of Alaska’s Republican lawmakers.
"At a time when the state is grappling with declining oil prices and production. We are concerned about the timing and lack of clarity on how this executive order will be implemented in the coming years," said Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.
"The governor of Alaska, the leadership of the North Slope and northwest Arctic boroughs, the majority of the tribal leadership representing Alaska natives who live in the Arctic, a supermajority of the members of the Alaska state legislature, and an overwhelming majority of the Alaskan people also oppose the withdrawal of acreage in these areas," added Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all Republicans, in a letter to Obama.
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