Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is furious that the Obama administration plans to protect 12 million acres of wilderness in Alaska and shes prepared "squeeze" the federal budget and fire thousands of federal employees if the White House does not reverse course.
At a two day retreat with key Alaska officials attended by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Murkowski suggested that reducing funding for DOI is just one of a variety of strategies at her disposal, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. In response to Jewell’s comment that “jobs in Alaska are on the line” if the budget is reduced, Murkowski said that she is “fighting for access to land,” and “if budgets are reduced and people lose their jobs, then that is an outcome.” According to Alaska Public Media, Murkowski made clear she feels that “a job is transitory,” and land access is “what we need to be fighting for,” rather than “some short-term job for a bureaucrat.”
In so many words, Senator Murkowski is saying fuck your jobs.
If you're like me your first reaction to this story would be to ask why any senator or representative would be angry that the land in their home states will be protected from an industry that will spoil the land, but in the case of Alaska it's not as simple as reflexive anti-Obummerism or anti-science tomfoolery.
You or I may look at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and see a pristine land that should be preserved rather than drilled and fracked, but Alaskan politicians look at the Refuge and see dollar signs and sweet, sweet socialism.
The state government derives over 90 percent of its revenue from the energy industry and virtually every Alaskan benefits financially because of it.
Republican politicians may decry the administration's actions as some kind of power grab or threat to state sovereignty or states' rights, but it all comes down to the money.
(map via Environmental Justice Atlas)