This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 26, 2015:

There’s no way, of course, that Thomas Jefferson could have known that President would do everything he could to advance his agenda through audacious moves that challenged legitimate authority. But he knew that someone like him would show up, sooner or later. Wrote Jefferson:

The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.

On Sunday the White House released a video of the president doing precisely what Jefferson was worried about: doing an end run around Congress and imposing a “comprehensive plan” from his Interior Department to prohibit forever any kind of development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). He even had the audacity to invite Congress to ratify his actions by inviting it to designate that part of the coast where oil developers would drill as a Protected Wilderness Area. Knowing in advance that the Republican-controlled Congress would deep-six his suggestion, he made it plain that his Interior Department would accomplish the task for him without the necessity of Congressional approval. Said Obama, in his 58-second announcement:

 Just like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.

Obama has remained consistent in his while being insistent that it be implemented with or without Congressional approval. Candidate Obama in 2008 said:

I strongly reject drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it would irreversibly damage a protected national wildlife refuge without creating sufficient oil supplies to meaningfully affect the global market price or have a discernible impact on U.S. energy security.

This unilateral declaration parallels Obama’s announcement that he will veto any Congressional attempt to approve the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Waiting for the right moment when America was distracted by events on the border, in Paris, in the Middle East, or celebrating the pleasant although likely to be short-lived drop in gas prices, Obama didn’t even bother calling a press conference for this audacious abrogation.

He couldn’t have cared less that he was spitting in the eye of Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowsky who just happens to chair the Senate’s Energy and National Resources Committee and who holds the budget strings on the Interior Department. It was a dare: if you don’t like this, do something about it!

Murkowsky accepted the challenge from Obama:

It’s clear that this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory.

 

I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran but not Alaska … we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.

She added:

I have tried to work with this administration even though they’ve made it extremely difficult every step of the way. But those days are over. We are left with no choice but to hit back as hard as we can.

ANWR is located on the north coast of Alaska, between the Beaufort Sea to the north, the Brooks Range to the south, and Prudhoe Bay to the west. 19 million acres in size, the area in question is less than one percent of the ANWR. And the proposed drilling sites involve less than 2,100 acres, a point supporters made in a slide presentation that recently went viral.

Snopes reviewed that presentation and declared that it contained a mixture of truths and falsehoods. For instance Snopes admitted that the planned area of development was 2,100 acres but when the Prudhoe Bay area was originally planned it too was expected to be limited to just 2,100 acres as well. However, as Prudhoe Bay was developed it expanded to a “total drilling footprint of 12,000 acres spread over 640,000 acres of the North Slope.”

The presentation claimed that wildlife would continue to flourish amid the drilling planned for the area, including photographs of elk, bear and other wildlife co-existing with the development. True, said Snopes, but opponents presented evidence that such development activities have “caused an average of 504 [oil] spills per year since 1996 … totaling more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substances.”

Proponents made the case that the geography of the intended development is a flat, barren plain covered with snow most of the year, far away from the pristine virgin areas shown by opponents with their photographs. Those opponents countered that although the development might be limited in size, the impact of potential accidental spills “can have devastating effects far outside the limited areas in which they originally occur. “

This writer took a road trip to the Beaufort Sea ten years ago and can confirm that the area in question looks like an American Siberia: cold, flat, barren, windy, uninviting, desolate. It is far removed from those areas of pristine virgin wilderness environmentalists claim that developers want to destroy in their greedy grasping for profits.

All of this is now irrelevant unless Murkowsky is able to muster the support from her committee to challenge Obama’s Interior Department. Let’s see if she and her committee members are up to the task.

—————————

Sources:

Snopes: The Truth About ANWR

The ANWR controversy

Should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be Opened to Oil Drilling?

USAToday:      Obama seeks to put Alaska refuge off limits to drilling

The President’s YouTube announcement:     Protecting the ANWR

McClatchy: Obama proposes to make ANWR a wilderness

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