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New Proposal to Protect Alaskan Wilderness Most Sweeping in Decades

President Obama'';s proposal to designate 12.3 million acres of oil-rich land as new wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is likely to stir an explosive federal debate over energy and conservation.

No president in 35 years has made as sweeping a conservation proposal as President Barack Obama did today by urging Congress to transform the oil-laden coastal plain of Alaska'';s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into what would be the largest wilderness area in the nation'';s history.

The president'';s move to designate 12.3 million acres of new wilderness would block decades of efforts to drill for oil on a 1.5-million-acre portion of the refuge. That coastal region is thought to contain up to 10.3 billion barrels of petroleum-roughly as much as the nation'';s largest oil field, nearby Prudhoe Bay, has produced since 1968.

Alaskan Wilderness
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