Shawn Regan on What Environmentalists Might Do With the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The debate over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reemerged last week as the Obama administrationannounced new protections for the vast, oil-rich Alaskan landscape. The Department of Interior is placing the 30,000 square mile ANWR off-limits to drilling, and the president wants Congress to further designate the refuge as wilderness—the highest form of federal protection. Environmental groups praised the move. "Some places are simply too special to drill," said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. The Center for Biological Diversity urged Congress to permanently protect the area "before it's destroyed for short-term profit." But, asks Shawn Regan, what would happen if we left the fate of ANWR up to environmentalists? What would they do if they owned ANWR? A story in the July 1981 issue of Reason could have the answer.