Alaska senators introduce bill to curb land protections

Alaska’s Senate delegation introduced a bill that would strip President Obama of his power to unilaterally protect land as national monuments.

Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMoore digs in amid mounting GOP criticism Republicans float pushing back Alabama special election Moore defends himself as pressure mounts MORE and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanCBS series 'Madam Secretary' exploring 'fake news' plot Alaska senators tell Trump not to change back name of mountain Everything you need to know about the coming Trump Arctic drilling debate MORE, both Republicans, said they want to protect Alaska and other states from land and water protections that could hamper economic activitiy.

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“It is clear that this White House is more concerned with securing its environmental legacy than protecting the economic well-being of Alaskans,” Murkowski, chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a Tuesday statement.

“My legislation is designed to make sure economic activity like fishing and responsible resource development is not put at risk — and family incomes damaged — by a stroke of the president’s pen.”

The bill comes just two weeks after Obama directed his administration to immediately manage Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, the most restrictive federal land protection. ANWR sits atop the most promising untapped oil reserve in Alaska.

After that announcement, Murkowski told the Daily News-Miner she fears that Obama will designate ANWR as a national monument, permanently protecting it from any development.

Obama has the power to designate public land and water as national monuments under 1906’s Antiquities Act without congressional approval or consultation.

He has used that power 13 times in his presidency, and plans to use it again next week to protect Chicago’s Pullman district.

Obama’s national monument designations have annoyed the GOP, leading to multiple efforts to rein in his power, such as the bill from Murkowski and Sullivan.

Under their bill, any president who wants to designate a monument would have to get approval from Congress and the state’s legislature, and conduct an environmental review.

“This legislation will put a check on the Obama administration’s war on Alaska families and the middle class,” Sullivan said in the statement. “Though it may be an inconvenient truth to this president, the citizens on the ground who live day in and day out with his fiats deserve to be heard.”