Category Archives: Environmental

Obama’s executive action rollouts increasing in pace

Obama’s executive action rollouts increasing in pace

Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama never used the words “executive action” until nearly three years into his presidency. Now announcements of executive actions have become a routine, almost daily occurrence.

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(Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — As President Obama stood in an Everglades swamp to speak on climate change Wednesday, the White House rolled out a package of eight executive actions, implemented by seven government agencies, to “protect the people and places that climate change puts at risk.”

The announcement contained no executive orders, sweeping directives, legislative proposals or bill signings.

Instead, the actions include smaller-bore staples of a “pen-and-phone” strategy that shows no sign of letting up: a report on the value of parks to the environment, a proclamation declaring National Parks Week, and conservation efforts in Florida, Hawaii, Puget Sound and the Great Lakes.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the actions were an effort to deal with the impacts of climate change “even in the face of pretty significant opposition from Republicans in Congress.”

Indeed, the actions have a political component, part of a White House strategy to work around Congress and force Republicans to respond to the president’s agenda.

“Since the election, the president has had a pretty explicit strategy,” said Brian Deese, a senior Obama adviser. “And it has consisted of trying to stay on offense, trying to push where he can to move the agenda through executive action. You’re going to keep seeing the president in that posture going forward.”

“Executive action” — a phrase Obama never uttered publicly in the first two and a half years of his presidency — has now become so routine that new announcements come several times a week.

The actions can take many forms, from formal executive orders and presidential memoranda to more routine reports, meetings and internal bureaucratic changes. That makes any definitive count of lower-level executive actions difficult.

But by one measure, such policy rollouts are actually increasing in pace. The White House often announces executive actions with a fact sheet from the press office, and those spiked last year during what Obama called the “Year of Action.” The White House issued 228 fact sheets in 2014, more than the first three years of his presidency combined.

This year, the White House has already issued three more fact sheets than last year at the same time.

The Obama strategy on executive actions closely parallels that of the Clinton White House. In Bill Clinton’s last two years in office, chief of staff John Podesta launched what would become known as “Project Podesta.” In an effort to flex presidential authority, Podesta canvassed executive agencies for actions Clinton could take without going to Congress.

Podesta came back to the Obama White House last year, and when he departed forHillary Clinton’s presidential campaign his responsibility for climate policy fell to Deese.

“One of the ways that the White House plays a role is to think forward and challenge the agencies to be proactive in saying, ‘What more can we do? And what more can we do that’s consistent with certain themes?’ ” Deese said.

This year, the major theme is “middle-class economics.” The Obama White House has also used executive action to lower mortgage insurance premiums and regulate retirement accounts. And coming soon: new overtime regulations from the Department of Labor, which Obama ordered in a presidential memorandum last year.

The actions often don’t originate in the White House. “Sometimes an agency has a particular initiative that they want to push that would benefit from getting a higher profile, or the president making a very concrete call to action,” Deese said.

Executive action wasn’t part of Obama’s strategy when he first came into office.

“I sort of see it as flowing from the failure of the grand bargain negotiations in 2011,” said Andrew Rudalevige, a presidency scholar at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. That’s when Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tried to reach a permanent budget agreement but instead came up with a “Supercommittee” that failed to reach agreement, triggering across-the-board budget cuts.

“He gets shellacked in the midterm, and then sets up a position where he could actually cooperate — a triangulation strategy, channeling Bill Clinton,” Rudalevige said. “Instead of channeling Bill Clinton, he started channeling Harry Truman taking on the ‘Do Nothing’ Congress.”

In the fall of 2011, Obama went on a “We Can’t Wait” road tour, meant to put pressure on Congress leading up to the 2012 elections. It was during that tour that Obama used the words “executive action” in public for the first time as president.

“I’ve told my administration to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress, steps that can save consumers money, make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal the economy,” Obama said in an October 2011 speech in Las Vegas. “And we’re going to be announcing these executive actions on a regular basis.”

In the 2014 congressional election cycle, that strategy was called the “Year of Action.” It brought often controversial executive actions on climate, immigration and Cuba.

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And that’s all I need,” he said in 2014. “Because with a pen, I can take executive actions.”

Not all Obama’s executive actions get congressional attention, and many involve “soft” powers — like convening meetings, issuing reports or writing internal rules — that are clearly within the president’s authority. But for Republicans in Congress, executive action become synonymous with presidential overreach.

“One of the important roles of Congress is to serve as a check and a balance against the administration, and we’ve seen from this Obama administration many, many times where they’ve overstepped their legal authority,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Wednesday. “In fact, 20 different times the Obama administration has had the Supreme Court rule unanimously against executive actions that they’ve taken, that they’ve actually gone before the Court on.”

As the Obama presidency heads into its final furlong, White House officials say their focus is increasingly on getting all those executive actions implemented.

“We will continue to announce more executive actions, but the president is also holding us to account to execute on the executive orders we’ve already announced,” said White House economic adviser Jeff Zients.

Follow @gregorykorte on Twitter.

Sacramento Utility Warns Water Wasters Could Be Cut Off If They Don’t Cut Back

Sacramento Utility Warns Water Wasters Could Be Cut Off If They Don’t Cut Back

American Water Utility Sacramento may be forced to restrict or cut off water to people who waste it, saying if people don’t start cutting back, it may have no choice.

Audie Foster with the private utility says its customers have been very proactive in conserving water.

“We are so proud of our customers in the last year of this drought,” he said.

American Water serves more than 180,000 people and businesses in Sacramento and Placer counties. But as the drought drags on, and if customers begin to waste water, the utility company says it may be forced to take drastic measures.

“Which could possibly include flow restrictions and or shutting off for wasteful water use,” he said.

Water Restriction SignThe utility company would install a device at the home or business that would either slow the flow of water or shut it down altogether, along with the threat of hundreds of dollars in fines.

Eloise Leong is one of several people in a Sacramento neighborhood who share water in a community garden co-op. She doesn’t have a problem with a forced restricted flow for water wasters, and neither does Jose Diaz.

“Yesterday I turned my sprinklers off because I knew it was going to rain and today people are still using water,” he said.

American Water say at this point, it’s not even close to restricting or cutting off water, but it has a message to those who might waste it as the long dry season looms for the state.

“We like nothing more than to help you use your water wisely and work with our conservation efforts so that we don’t ever have to get to those efforts locally,” Foster said.

The company says it couldn’t show CBS13 the flow restriction device because they are concerned violators could look for ways to work around it.

Fukushima radiation has reached North American shores

Fukushima radiation has reached North American shores

by Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal

nuclear radiation exposure reactor

Seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached North America.

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution detected small amounts of cesium-134 and cesium-137 in a sample of seawater taken in February from a dock on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

It’s the first time radioactivity from the March 2011 triple meltdown has been identified on West Coast shores.

Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler emphasized that the radiation is at very low levels that aren’t expected to harm human health or the environment.

“Even if the levels were twice as high, you could still swim in the ocean for six hours every day for a year and receive a dose more than a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray,” Buesseler said. “While that’s not zero, that’s a very low risk.”

Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from the crippled nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. More radiation was released to the air, then fell to the sea.

Frustrated by the absence of monitoring by U.S. federal agencies, Buesseler last year launched a crowd-funded, citizen-science seawater sampling project.

He’s tracked the radiation plume across 5,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean, using highly sensitive, expensive equipment at his Cape Cod, Massachusetts, laboratory. There, he analyzes samples sent to him by West Coast volunteers and scientists aboard research cruises.

In October, he reported that a sample taken about 745 miles west of Vancouver, British Columbia, tested positive for cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima because it can only have come from that plant.

It also showed higher-than-background levels of cesium-137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans because of nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

In November, Buesseler reported that Fukushima radiation had been identified in 10 offshore samples, including one 100 miles off the coast of Eureka, California.

The Vancouver Island sample was taken Feb. 19 from a dock in Ucluelet, a working harbor community in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

It contained 1.5 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3) of cesium-134, the Fukushima fingerprint, and 5 Bq/m3 of cesium-137. A becquerel is a basic unit of radioactivity.

That compares to 50 million Bq/m3 of the isotopes near Japan just after the meltdown and about 1,000 Bq/m3 near Japan now, Buesseler said.

Scientific models have predicted that in general, the plume would hit the shore in the north first, then head south toward California.

That may be difficult to document, however, because Buesseler’s sampling is not regular or systematic and depends on volunteer fundraising.

In Oregon, particularly, there have been only four sampling sites, and only one still is active.

And ocean currents can be unpredictable.

“We expect more of the sites will show detectable levels of cesium-134 in coming months, but ocean currents and exchange between offshore and coastal waters is quite complex,” Buesseler said. “Predicting the spread of radiation becomes more complex the closer it gets to the coast, and we need the public’s help to continue this sampling network.”

Buesseler’s group has recently teamed with a similar, Canadian-funded program called InFORM, led by Jay Cullen at the University of Victoria, Canada. It will add about a dozen monitoring stations along the coast of British Columbia.

Cruises with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, will add about 10 new sampling sites offshore.

And Woods Hole has received support from the National Science Foundation to analyze about 250 seawater samples that will be collected next month on a research ship traveling between Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

tloew@statesmanjournal.com, (503) 399-6779 or follow at Twitter.com/SJWatchdog

To learn more about the radiation monitoring project, visit www.ourradioactiveocean.org. The most recent seawater sampling results will be posted on the site by midday Monday, April 6.

DNA testing for dog poop on the rise in Seattle area

DNA testing for dog poop on the rise in Seattle area

Dog Ate My Homework

SEATTLE (AP) — Frustrated with dog owners who refuse to clean up after their pets, an increasing number of apartments in Seattle are opting to use DNA testing to identify the culprits.

The Seattle Times reports (http://bit.ly/1HxGgb2) that a company called BioPet Vet Lab from Knoxville, Tennessee, is providing its PooPrints testing kits to 26 apartment and condo complexes and homeowners associations in the region.

Erin Atkinson, property manager at Potala Village Apartments in Everett says the messes are all over.

“There was poop inside the elevators, in the carpeted hallways, up on the roof,” Atkinson said. “They’re lazy, I guess.”

That’s why, since February 2014, tenants have been paying a “one-time fee of $29.95 for DNA testing.”

BioPet says in the past five years, the DNA test has been used in nearly 1,000 places around the country, and it’s especially popular in Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles and other large cities.

The marketing took a little longer to reach the Northwest, but King-Snohomish-Pierce counties are opportune sites. They are home to about 811,000 dogs. Seattle has 50 percent more dogs than kids, the Times said. One study said the average dog poop weighs one-third of a pound and the dogs in that three-county region are responsible for about 268,000 pounds of droppings a day.

Atkinson says that after some initial fines, DNA testing is working at her complex, with two dozen or so dogs.

“One person was fined five times in one week,” she said. “That’s over $500. Now people clean up after their dogs.”

The fines added up this way: $59.95 to have the poop tested, and $50 to the complex for the hassle of collecting the sample.

Atkinson says that residents at the complex are “mostly on board” for having their dogs’ DNA tested.

Republicans warn world that Obama U.N. plan could be undone

Republicans warn world that Obama U.N. plan could be undone

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to the media after a weekly Senate caucus luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s plan for U.N. climate change talks encountered swift opposition after its release Tuesday, with Republican leaders warning other countries to “proceed with caution” in negotiations with Washington because any deal could be later undone.

The White House is seeking to enshrine its pledge in a global climate agreement to be negotiated Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris. It calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by close to 28 percent from 2005 levels within a decade, using a host of existing laws and executive actions targeting power plants, vehicles, oil and gas production and buildings.

But Republican critics say the administration lacks the political and legal backing to commit the United States to an international agreement.

“Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

U.S. officials stressed that their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, U.N. lingo for its official submission, stands on sound legal footing, with the measures drawing authority from legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act.

Todd Stern, the lead U.S. climate change negotiator, said he frequently tells foreign counterparts that “undoing the kind of regulation we are putting in place is very tough to do.”

But elements of the administration’s climate policy already face legal challenges. On April 16, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. will hear arguments from 13 states opposed to as-yet-unfinalized regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that target emissions in existing power plants.

And McConnell’s warnings echoed the tone of a March 9 “open letter” from 47 Republican senators to Iran, in which they warned a Republican president would not be bound to honor a nuclear agreement struck by Democrat Obama without congressional approval, calling it a “mere executive agreement.”

Some observers said that resistance to the administration’s climate policies leaves foreign governments questioning whether Obama’s commitments can last.

“By strenuously invoking EPA regulations, the Administration is trying to convince skeptical international audiences that the U.S. can actually deliver on its new climate goals, despite Republican resistance,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House official who is now with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

“But major capitals are likely to remain nervous.”

The administration is clearly sensitive to the threat. Power plants are the biggest domestic source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the EPA is seeking to use its power to slash carbon levels from plants to 30 percent of their 2005 levels by 2020.

On Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency had designed power plant rules under the authority of the Clean Air Act – and insisted that they can withstand Supreme Court scrutiny.

“We don’t need a plan B if we are solid on our plan A,” she said.

But Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer representing utilities industries for Bracewell & Giuliani and former assistant administrator of the EPA under George W Bush, says even if the courts uphold the EPA proposal on power plants, a future Republican administration can reverse it.

“There are some EPA rules that are very difficult for a new administration to change but this is not one of those rules,” Holmstead said. He calculates that at least five high court justices are wary of the EPA’s regulatory leeway.

Environmental groups, on the other hand, were more confident that Obama’s measures cannot be reversed by the courts or politics.

“The Clean Air Act has proven to be quite durable,” said David Waskow, director of international initiatives for the World Resources Institute. “While elements may be slowed or modified by legal challenges, they are rarely overturned.”

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Bruce Wallace and Grant McCool)

75% of Air and Rain Samples Contain Agricultural Herbicides

75% of Air and Rain Samples Contain Agricultural Herbicides

Biotech isn’t just tainting the food supply

plane airplane spraying farming agriculture cropduster

by CHRISTINA SARICH | INFOWARS.COM

A new study proves just how invasive Monsanto’s best selling chemicals are, revealing how herbicide toxins are appearing in 75% of rain and air samples.

Take a deep breath. Thanks to the massive use of herbicides across the planet, you likely just inhaled a dose of Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Round Up – at least according to the latest US Geological Survey published in the journal Enviromental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The chemical ingredient used in Round Up, known as glyphosate, as well as other ‘inert’ toxic chemicals, were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007 – a large river that cuts through the middle of the US, and is the basin in which hundreds of farms’ runoff drains.

An evaluation of numerous pesticides currently used were measured through water and air samples collected from 1995 to 2007 during growing season along the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. If 75% of samples containing Round Up isn’t shocking enough, there’s more:

Round Up chemicals were prevalent, but so were 37 other toxic compounds – all present in both rain and air samples.
Glyphosate was found in 86% of air samples, and 77% of rain samples.

Seven compounds in 1995 and five in 2007 were detected in more than 50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in more than 50% of the air and rain samples in both years.

The report states that 2 million kilograms of glyphosate were applied statewide in 2007, or 55% of the total herbicide flux for that year (~129 μg/m2), leading them to state the high prevalence of glyphosate in air and water “was not surprising.”

What is surprising is that these results are not becoming widely distributed until 2015.

This estimate, if correct, reveals that there has been an ~ 18 fold increase in glyphosate concentrations in air and water samples in only 12 years (1995-2007), and likely more since the samples were taken.

This means that our bodies have been under fire with biotech toxins, not just in the food we eat, but in the air we breathe, and the water we drink, for more than a decade.

The longer the period of exposure we are subjected to, you can bet the more diseases will crop up.

These toxins have cumulative and synergistic effects with other toxicants with incalculably complex results that produce far more harm together than glyphosate alone (i.e. synergistic toxicity).

If you want to breathe a sigh of relief, you’ll have to fight biotech. It isn’t just the food they are poisoning.

This post originally appeared at Natural Society.

6000% Increase in Cancer Rates At Fukushima Site

6000% Increase in Cancer Rates At Fukushima Site

Hushed up by international governments

nuclear power plant energy electricity

As reports from individuals like Chieko Shiina, a supporter of the Fukushima Collaborateive Clinic talk about exploding rates of thyroid cancer in children, as well as an epidemic of leukemia, heart attacks, and other health problems, the Abe-led government and US continue to sweep the fall out of the Fukushima disaster under the rug.

Cancer rates have exploded at an increase of almost 6000% in areas near the reactor meltdown. Aside from people-on-the-street interviews that a rare media outlet like “Hodo station” will report on, mainstream media stays completely silent. One Japanese resident, Carol Hisasue, laments that as the incident has disappeared from the media, it has also disappeared from people’s consciousness.

So why does Fukushima continue to be a see no evil, hear no evil event? You can watch an over hour-long report that goes into detail, but to sum it up, people can’t even turn on their gas-stoves near Fukushima because “it would be like burning radioactive fuel in their kitchens.” The contamination levels are too ridiculous to even comprehend.

No matter if the accident was caused by a purposeful nuclear attack, an act of weather warfare (as some conspiracy analysts have suggested), or by the sheer greed of the nuclear industry who built it, it is essentially a massive nuclear weapon on fault lines. The Japanese government and TEPCO are guilty of crimes against humanity, and their neglect is compounded by a complete disregard, not only for human life, but for all life upon this planet.

The US is also responsible. After the spotlight was put on failing plants across the United States that continue to leak radiation into our air, water, and soil every day, the multi-billion dollar, US taxpayer-subsidized contracts of the nuclear industry came into question. And you can be sure any real inquiry into the infrastructure of our nuclear plants was hushed up as quickly as concerns were raised.

The World Health Organization once warned that cancer rates could soar 50% in less than 20 years – but we’ve already surpassed that estimate, which once seemed catastrophic, exponentially.

So tell me – why are we in such a hurry to forget Fukushima, and why are plans being drawn up to build more nuclear reactors in the US using taxpayer monies?

This post originally appeared at Natural Society

Snow Buries New England, Coastal Flooding Reported

Snow Buries New England, Coastal Flooding Reported

BLIZZARD ’15: THE LATEST

  • Up to 4 inches of snow per hour in New England
  • Storm surge, high tide leads to 30ft waves, flooding
  • Near-whiteout conditions in many areas
  • Eight states made emergency declarations
By ALASTAIR JAMIESON and ERIN McCLAM

Up to four inches of snow an hour fell in parts of the Northeast early Tuesday as tens of millions of people hunkered down for a historic blizzard that shut down travel – but New York City and Philadelphia escaped the worst of the weather.

New England was braced for two or even three feet of snow, whipped by near-hurricane force winds that created almost whiteout conditions and threatened coastal flooding.

However, a blizzard warning was downgraded to a winter storm alert in all but one county of New York early Tuesday.

View image on Twitter

As winds combined with high tides, a storm surge created waves of up to 30 feet outside Boston Harbor and water crashed over sea defenses in Nantucket, Mass., causing “significant flooding” downtown. Dave Fronzuto of Nantucket Emergency Management reported seven feet of water and flooded homes. Maine became the eighth state to declare and emergency in response to the storm.

Islip, New York, was buried under almost 17 inches of snow by 5 a.m. and there was 7.5 inches on the ground in New York’s Central Park, the Weather Channel said. Marlborough, Connecticut recorded 16.2 inches.

“The focus is now slightly further to the east,” Weather Channel lead forecaster Kevin Roth said. “We had two competing models forecasting the snowfall, one that put the center of the system slightly to the west, one slightly to the east and it was the second one that turned out to be correct.

“New York City may end up with 10-12 inches — which is still a lot — but the worst of it will be from central Long Island and Rhode Island up through to coastal Maine where we could still expect 12-24 inches and maybe up to 30 inches where the storm lingers.”

He added: “Even in New York City, the wind is going to blow that snow around and really reduce visibility.”

Airlines already canceled more than 4,000 flights on Tuesday, with New York’s LaGuardia closed completely and all but a handful of services scratched at other key airports in the region.

At John F. Kennedy Airport, passengers on at least one outbound Virgin Atlantic flight were stranded when their flight to London was canceled after six hours on the tarmac.

“There’s nothing to drink, nothing to eat. It’s a disaster,” said Alexis Dehasse, a music producer who was aboard Flight VS4 to London, which was supposed to take off at 6:30 p.m. ET but dumped passengers back at the gate after midnight after dealing with de-icing and a sick passenger.

Amtrak suspended Tuesday service on many of its busiest lines, including the Northeast Regional and Acela Express between New York and Boston, and Boston and New York suspended subways.

In many states, roads were closed outright to all but emergency vehicles.

“This snow is going to come in very fast. There’ll be fast accumulation, there’ll be drifts, there’ll be visibility problems, there’ll be high winds,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that gusts in the city could surpass 60 mph. “That is a dangerous situation.”

NBC News’ Elisha Fieldstadt, M. Alex Johnson, Jon Schuppe, Tracy Connor, Shamar Walters and Hasani Gittens contributed to this report.

Land Grab! Obama To Take Control Of ANWR

Land Grab! Obama To Take Control Of ANWR

ANWR Alaska oil gas drilling pipeline wildlife environment

President Obama announced Sunday that his administration plans to lock up the oil-rich 1.5 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain and offshore areas in Alaska from oil and gas exploration.

Obama is asking Congress to designate 12 million acres of ANWR as a “wilderness” to keep it off-limits to development, despite widespread Native Alaskan support for drilling in the area. ANWR’s coastal plain alone is estimated to hold 28 billion barrels of oil.

“Designating vast areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The Obama administration argues that making ANWR off-limits to development will help protect the region’s wildlife and natural beauty. Obama is also considering ways to prevent new oil production at the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Environmentalists have long campaigned to hinder oil production in Alaska.

ANWR Alaska oil gas drilling pipeline wildlife environment

“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,” Jewell added.

But Alaska lawmakers were furious with the administration’s proposal — for decades Alaska Republicans and Democrats have been pushing for opening ANWR to drilling.

“What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory.”

The Obama administration has already proposed designating 226 million acres of waters off Alaska’s coast as a critical habitat for the Arctic ringed seal. Alaska’s outer continental shelf is believed to be home to the world’s largest untapped oil and gas reserves. According to Alaska’s Resource Development Council, the outer shelf could hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“The promises made to us at statehood, and since then, mean absolutely nothing to them,” Murkowski said. “I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.”

Alaska’s energy production has been hampered in recent years due largely to federal restrictions and adverse economics. In recent months, the state has seen its financial situation grow worse because of plummeting oil prices. At one point, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline used to transport some 2.1 million barrels per day. It now carries well under 1 million barrels per day. The pipeline has so far only carried oil from state lands, as federal lands have been off-limits. The pipeline will have to be shut down and dismantled if it drops below 300,000 barrels per day.

“This is the best news for the refuge since President Eisenhower established it in 1960 as the Arctic National Wildlife Range,” said Rhea Suh, a former Obama Interior Department official who is now president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s a national treasure worthy of the highest protection available for our public lands.”

Environmentalists have been keen on slowing down the flow of oil through the pipeline to make it uneconomical and impractical to get oil from Alaska. Eco-activists have labelled Alaska a ground-zero for global warming, saying shrinking sea ice levels are harming polar bears, wildlife and Native Alaskans — despite evidence to the contrary.