The other Alaskan oil mess

Drill for oil? In Alaskan wilderness? Go right ahead!

Published January 12, 2006 5:02PM (EST)

When the topic is oil and Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge gets all the attention, and environmentalists are rightfully gleeful that ANWR has once again escaped development, despite Sen. Ted Stevens' best efforts. But the Bush administration's efforts to fast-track oil and gas development in other parts of Alaska have received much less publicity.

Salon, inadvertently, has actually contributed to the lack of awareness, by choosing to publish a fabulous, long, on-location article on the controversial topic on Election Day 2004. Needless to say, the story, written by Daniel Glick, didn't get the attention it deserved.

Well, yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management released its "Record of Decision" announcing plans to go ahead with making some 4,390,000 acres of Alaskan wilderness available for oil and gas leasing. The 78-page decision is an interesting document that makes lots and lots of noise about respecting the interests of the subsistence hunters who live in the area and ensuring that as little environmental damage is done as possible, but the bottom line is this: 95 percent of the land under question is being opened for leasing to oil and gas companies.

Read the story. It's one of the better pieces on the environment and oil and Alaska that Salon, or anyone, has done, and it's well worth revisiting in light of yesterday's BLM announcement.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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